Is it weird that I’m excited for World Toilet Day? I mean, what other day allows for potty talk all day long? And you can get away with making a photo collage of latrines.
World Toilet Day was created by the United Nations to recognize the life-saving importance of toilets and sanitation and to raise awareness about the fact that one in three people around the world have no safe and sanitary place to “go” when nature calls.
I was honored to have traveled to Nicaragua back in March to see WaterAid’s work on the ground. I saw how women and teenage girls were being trained to build and maintain wells and toilets, giving them skills, income and a better way of life for their entire community. I stayed at Linda’s house where I ate dinner with a headlamp on, slept under a mosquito net, and climbed up rickety stairs to get to the outdoor toilet (pictured in the above collage on the left) while dodging livestock.
While there are times I wish I could go back to the simplicity of Nicaragua, the sheer lack of clean water, sanitation and infrastructure still boggles my mind.
WaterAid released the Child of Mine report today. The image below gives you a snapshot of the findings. The statistics are staggering. (Download the full 12-page report)
So what is WaterAid America doing to bring awareness to these issues on World Toilet Day? On Friday, November 21 Hallie Tamez, WaterAid America’s Associate Director of Major Gifts, will be carrying a 40-pound jerry can filled with water across Manhattan in solidarity with the women and girls across the globe who have no choice but to do this every day.
How cool is that? (Actually, I told Hallie she was pretty badass. Because she is. Just look at that photo below.) Hallie says:
The #Steps4Water event will highlight the daily experiences of women and children living without clean water. As we shed light on this issue, we look forward to welcoming new supporters to help raise funds on #GivingTuesday, December 2, 2014.
You can find Hallie’s route on WaterAid’s website. If you spot her and post a photo to Instagram, tagged with @WaterAidAmerica and #Steps4Water, you could win a dinner for two at Spasso NYC.
So what can you do? Here are some action steps for you on World Toilet Day:
- Stay tuned for updates from WaterAid America CEO Sarina Prabasi on Twitter via @SPrabasi and @WaterAidAmerica on World Water Day as she talks about open defecation and the challenges for women and girls at a special UN panel alongside representatives from UN Water, the Republic of Singapore and more. The event will be webcast on United Nations Web TV from 1p.m. to 3p.m. EDT on November 19.
- Ask Congress to support the Water for the World Act. The US House Foreign Affairs Committee will be debating the bill on November 20. It’s our last chance to get the bill passed before year end!
- Celebrate the importance of toilets with WaterAid and their friends at Go Green Environmental Services at a World Toilet Day celebration (PDF, 300KB) with live music, free food and beer at 119 Rocky Point Road, Middle Island, New York on November 19 at 4p.m. EDT.
- Test your toilet trivia and learn more about sanitation at the Eww! What’s Eating You? exhibit at Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas.
- Read more about the sanitation crisis