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TueNov 19

World Toilet Day – November 19, 2024

November 19 was designated as World Toilet Day by the United Nations General Assembly, and is coordinated every year by a partnership between UN-Water and governments around the world. Today, we talk about the one invention that’s kept hidden behind closed doors, but is undeniably important. So if you’d like an “ode to the commode” read ahead.

History of World Toilet Day

Jack Sim, a philanthropist from Singapore, founded the World Toilet Organization on November 19, 2001, subsequently declaring the day World Toilet Day. The WTO chose “World Toilet Day” as opposed to “World Sanitation Day” for ease of public messaging, though toilets are only the first stage of sanitation apparatuses.

World Toilet Day was made to spread and increase public awareness of broader sanitations systems such as wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and hand washing. Goal 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals calls for adequate sanitation, which includes the system assuring that waste is safely processed. Their efforts to call attention to the sanitation crises were strengthened in 2010 when the right to water and sanitation was officially declared a human right by the UN.

In 2013, a joint effort between the Government of Singapore and the World Toilet Organization led to Singapore’s first UN resolution called “Sanitation for All.” This resolution called for the collective action to end the world sanitation crises. As a result, World Toilet Day was declared an official UN day and the resolution was adopted by 122 countries at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. During World Toilet Day 2015, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon advocated action to renew efforts to provide access to satisfactory sanitation for all, reminding everyone of the “Call to Action on Sanitation” which was launched in 2013 and aimed to end open defecation by 2025.

World Toilet Day timeline

WTO founded

The World Toilet Organization was founded by Jack Sim in Singapore.

Sanitary Rights

The UN declared the right to water and sanitation a human right.  

A challenge issued

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation issued the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, asking innovators design a waste-free commode in order to reconsider how we flush.

It's official

World Toilet Day was declared an official UN day

World Toilet Day FAQs

What is the purpose of World Toilet Day?

The purpose of World Toilet Day is to raise awareness about how many people in the world still lack basic sanitary facilities. 

How many people in the world have toilets?

About 74% of the world’s population has basic sanitation. However, 2 billion people still don’t have access to facilities such as toilets, and 63 million people still have no other option but to defecate in the open. 

What country has the worst sanitation?

India, holding the second largest population in the world, unfortunately tops the list for providing poor sanitary facilities to the common people. 

How to Observe World Toilet Day

  1. Read up

    As strange as it is to say, the history of the toilet, and plumbing in general, is a fascinating read. From the ancient Romans to the Middle East to John Crapper and today’s futuristic thrones, there’s plenty to learn about. And we're sure there's a joke about the perfect place to do said reading. 

  2. Post it

    With all the tact you can muster (and perhaps a quick clean before), post a picture of your own toilet to social media to raise awareness of World Toilet Day, with the appropriate hashtag. Or, use your internet search skills to track down some of the best toilets in the world, and share with your friends. Great view? Cool design? The perfect toilet is out there for you to find.

  3. Take action

    With the help and guidance of UN-Water and its partners, you can host an event to raise funds for the cause or simply to increase awareness. The official World Toilet Day website even offers a tool to help you connect with others hosting a similar event all around the world.

Why World Toilet Day is Important

  1. It raises awareness

    World Toilet Day is all about shedding light on a subject that is often deemed inappropriate. And while we don’t suggest documenting the when, why, and how of your bathroom habits on social media, it can definitely be a day to open the conversation about sanitation issues in the world. As the UN puts it, there’s a taboo around talking toilets, and it’s time to break it.

  2. It celebrates a modern marvel

    From the first flush toilet to innovations being made to this day, toilets and plumbing have changed the way we live. Now, thanks to recent advancements, consumers aren’t wasting hundreds of billions of gallons of water and billions of dollars each year. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that if everyone in the country used an eco-friendly plumbing system, we could save 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $17 billion, every year. Now that’s something to celebrate.

  3. It’s urgent

    Just like you after a Big Gulp, this can’t wait. UN statistics show that diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year. What’s more, productivity is falling due to lack of sanitation and poor hygiene practices in workplaces in several countries, costing them as much as 5 percent of their gross domestic product. 

World Toilet Day dates

2024November 19Tuesday
2025November 19Wednesday
2026November 19Thursday
2027November 19Friday
2028November 19Sunday

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