A Tale of Two Toilets: Profiting from Necessity?
Publisher: SP The Bulllet
Date Written: 10/01/2019
Year Published: 2019
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23260
As indoor plumbing arrived in the U.S. in the 1840s and Dr. John Snows treatise on sewage-contaminated water causing cholera came out in 1855, the current global toilet situation cannot be attributed to lack of knowledge, technology, or resources.
In 2013, the UN General Assembly designated November 19 as World Toilet Day. On October 1, 2018, the World Health Organization launched its first (!) global guidelines on sanitation and health. At present, the UN puts the number of people living without household toilets at 4.5 billion. Open defecation leaves women particularly vulnerable to rape, and approximately 314,000 children die each year because of poor sanitation. "The transmission of a host of diseases, including cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio, is linked to dirty water and inadequately treated sewage. Poor sanitation is also a major factor in transmission of neglected tropical diseases such as intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma, as well as contributing to malnutrition," the WHO states.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Reinvent the Toilet Challenge was initiated in 2011 and is now in its third phase with sixteen different research teams around the world. Gates says of himself that he never thought he would turn from a computer whiz into a "toilet geek." He's "committed to the task, since better toilets could help save millions of lives and open up an entirely new market."
There are related tales of great concern. The basic material need for water and sanitation is for the most part neglected across the political spectrum, including the anti-war and climate communities that focus on higher level living conditions like replacement jobs and personal fulfillment. Austerity and dismantling of public services brings overwhelming hardship to the global population, especially at a time of massive displacement due to war and to climate change.