Hundreds of Children Die Each Day from Poor Sanitation, Secretary-General Says on World Toilet Day, Urging Action to Deliver Safe Conditions Worldwide
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on World Toilet Day, observed on 19 November.
Improving sanitation is a highly cost-effective way to transform people’s lives. The benefits of better sanitation go far beyond public health. Safe toilets and sanitation improve nutrition, help to manage scarce water resources, and promote school attendance and work opportunities, particularly for women and girls.
Every dollar invested in toilets and sanitation is repaid five-fold in lower health costs and increased productivity, education, and jobs. Yet we are seriously off track to keep our promise of safe toilets for all by 2030 — a crucial indicator in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Investment in sanitation systems is too low and progress remains too slow; 3.6 billion people still suffer the indignity of living without a safe toilet. Every day, over 700 children die from diseases caused by poor sanitation, hygiene, and unsafe water.
On this World Toilet Day, we focus on the impact of inadequate sanitation systems on groundwater — how they spread human waste into rivers, lakes, and soil, polluting the water resources under our feet. This issue has been neglected for too long because it happens out of sight — underground, and amidst the poorest communities.
Today, let us shine a light on the vital role of safe toilets in all aspects of sustainable development — both visible and invisible. And let us act with urgency and ambition to deliver on the basic human right to water and sanitation for all people, everywhere.