World Toilet Day: Challenges to accessing toilets

Hamna HumailWeb Editor

19th Nov, 2020. 05:25 pm
World Toilet Day

It’s the 21st century and still over half of the world’s population lacks safe sanitation. A staggering 4.2 billion people across the world live without access to toilets.

To add to it, 40 per cent of Pakistan’s population – comprising more than 79 million people – does not have access to a decent toilet, according to WaterAid Pakistan country director Siddiq Khan.

Every year on 19 November, the United Nations celebrates World Toilet Day to create awareness about those living without ‘safely managed sanitation’.

The UN commemorates this day to take action in order to tackle issues surrounding sanitation. It aims to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6, which states that access to water and sanitation for all people must be accomplished by 2030.

“Climate change is getting worse. Flood, drought and rising sea levels are threatening sanitation systems — from toilets to septic tanks to treatment plants. Everyone must have sustainable sanitation, alongside clean water and hand-washing facilities, to help protect and maintain our health security and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases,” stated the UN in its proposal for this year’s World Toilet Day.

In addition to sanitation for all, UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 also targets completely eliminating the practice of open defecation and “paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations”.

Pakistan’s fight for Toilets

As per a report submitted to the Sindh High Court four years ago, there are no public toilets in at least seven districts of Sindh: Karachi’s West and South districts, Dadu, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Ghotki, Nawabshah and Mirpur Mathelo.

Provincial and local government authorities in Sindh had earlier announced plans to set up 2,300 toilets at public places, including bus stops and parks. The plan is yet to materialise.

“It has been four years, but no serious efforts have been made to finalise the plan for establishing these public toilets,” claimed Rizwan Akhtar, a member of the SBC. “The unavailability of toilets at public places causes inconvenience for women and children in particular.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed that toilets and sanitation systems are vital as the impact of climate change hit vulnerable communities.

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