I think you'll agree, water and sanitation are generally not thought of as sexy issues. It's not water's fault, it's that latter word- sanitation. Talking about hygiene and proper disposal of human waste usually doesn’t lend itself well to polite conversation.

In the US we've tried to distance ourselves so much from the toilet and the activities that go on in there that we use terms like "going to bathroom" or "using the restroom" when we need to poop. Let's be honest- we have no intention of bathing or resting.

Global Citizens are determined to break this “Poo Taboo,” and with friends like Raya from the Sesame Street family, we’re talking to kids of all ages.

Not everyone has a restroom at their disposal, and for people living without access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), this has serious consequences.

Wikipedia Commons

Here's what you need to know:

1. 2.5 billion people don't have access to a toilet or latrine. That means they must practice open-defecation (meaning quite frankly, pooping in the open).

2. For those who do have access to a toilet, cleanliness and privacy may be an issue. For girls, the embarrassment of using coed toilets with no privacy at school is often an incentive to stay home. When they first get their period, their embarrassment and shame often only makes the situation worse. It also puts them at risk of being attacked and even raped, as we’ve seen with the recent attacks on women in India. 

3. Human waste is full of dangerous bacteria that can cause the spread of diseases like cholera, typhoid, infectious hepatitis, polio, cryptosporidiosis, and ascariasis. When it is not disposed of properly, it ultimately makes it way back into the human body and makes people sick.

4.  783 million people do not have access to clean, safe water. The closest water available to them may be miles away, keeping them out of school, away from work, and risking their safety. Oh, and it's likely not clean. 

5. Drinking unclean water is extremely dangerous. In fact, 1 out of every 5 deaths for children under the age of 5 are caused by water related diseases.

6. The most common illness associated with a lack of access to water and sanitation is diarrhea. In developed countries, diarrhea is often laughed at as an embarrassing nuisance. For million of children living in the developing world, it can be a death sentence.

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

Take away points (TL;DR):

WASH receives far too little attention because of the negative stigma associated with words like open defecation, but addressing this issue would drastically improve the situation for people living in poverty. Let's call on our leaders to commit themselves to increasing access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene so that the millions living without can live with dignity and health.


Defeat Poverty

Water is only part of the solution

By Christina Nuñez