November 19 is World Toilet Day. It’s a United Nations observance to highlight a serious problem that 4.2 billion people in the world living without safely managed sanitation options. More people in the world have access to a mobile phone than a toilet. More than 840,000 people die every year from diseases related to lack of access to water and sanitation. It's the reason why the Sustainable Development Goal 6 of the UN’s Global Goals is clean water and sanitation for all by 2030.
This year the World Toilet Day 2020 focuses on sustainable sanitation and climate change. Climate change is getting worse. Flood, drought and rising sea levels are threatening sanitation systems – from toilets to septic tanks to treatment plants. Everyone must have sustainable sanitation, alongside clean water and handwashing facilities, to help protect and maintain our health security and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases such as COVID-19, cholera and typhoid. Sustainable sanitation systems also reuse waste to safely boost agriculture, and reduce and capture emissions for greener energy.
So, what does a sustainable sanitation system look like? Sustainable sanitation begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible and dignified setting. The waste then gets stored in a tank, which can be emptied later by a collection service, or transported away by pipework. The next stage is treatment and safe disposal. Safe reuse of human waste helps save water, reduces and captures greenhouse gas emissions for energy production, and can provide agriculture with a reliable source of water and nutrients.
Learn more about this year’s theme and how to engage in the World Toilet Day 2020 campaign here.
In the parable of the sheep and the goats the King says to the sheep: ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Perhaps today we could add ‘I was without a safe and private toilet and you helped to provide me with clean sanitation’.
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The World Council of Churches asked Carolyn Winfrey Gillette to compose lyrics for a hymn for World Toilet Day. Great lyrics.
More resources on the Pilgrim Uniting Church website.
Prayer: Lord for people who have no access to clean sanitation today we pray. May we who have everything take one small step today to aid those who have nothing, Amen.