Question: What do 2,4 billion people have in common?

18 Nov 2016

Answer: They don't have access to a safe toilet. 

Blog post written by Ben Hobbs, Campaign Manager for Generation Nutrition ahead of World Toilet Day on 19 November 2016, and originally posted on the Generation Nutrition website

It’s a shocking reality that 2.4 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation* and one billion people have no choice but to defecate in the open.

On the occasion of World Toilet Day (19 November), Generation Nutrition is uniting with other campaign groups to call for urgent action on this issue. Poor sanitation massively increases the risk of children catching infectious diseases, such as diarrhoea or intestinal worms. These diseases cause or exacerbate undernutrition by reducing the body’s ability to absorb nutrients in the usual way. And the under-five age group is particularly vulnerable.

To help explain these links clearly, Generation Nutrition has developed a short video animation, entitled ‘Sanitation and nutrition: let’s break the vicious circle’. You can watch the video here. We have also published a factsheet, which explores the issue in more detail.

We are recommending the following steps by governments:

  • 1. Recognise the cross-over between the two issues by integrating water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) into national nutrition policies, strategies and plans; and, similarly, by including nutrition in WASH plans.
  • 2. Honour existing funding commitments made on WASH and nutrition, including the aid pledges given at the 2013 Nutrition for Growth Summit and the commitments on WASH made under the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership.
  • 3. Increase domestic and international funding for WASH, in order to address the existing shortfalls in funding, especially in low-income countries and for sanitation and hygiene.
  • 4. Adopt a rights-based approach, including by fully recognising in national legislation people’s fundamental rights to clean water and sanitation.

You can follow the events linked to World Toilet Day 2016 on social media via the hashtags #WECANTWAIT and #WORLDTOILETDAY and also via this dedicated website:

*The UN defines an improved sanitation facility as one that ‘hygienically separates human excreta from human contact’ (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme). In practice, this means a toilet which is linked to a septic tank or sewer, or a high-quality pit latrine.