There's something you use nearly every day and you've probably taken it for granted: a toilet.
More than 1 billion people lack access to a toilet and face the indignity of public defecation. A society without toilets is unhealthy and prone to disease. The World Toilet Organization designated November 19 as World Toilet Day to draw global attention to the sanitation crisis. Many illnesses could be prevented if everyone had access to a working toilet.
Here are three facts about the world toilet shortage that you need to know:
1. 2.4 billion people lack decent sanitation.
Nearly one-third of humans don't have access to proper sanitation. That includes more than 1 billion people who have to defecate in public because they lack a toilet. There are 46 countries where at least half the population doesn't have access to a toilet. One of those countries is India, where there might be human waste in some streets and fields.
2. The toilet shortage is sexist.
While toilet access impacts both genders, this crisis is disproportionately hurting women around the globe. Women without a working toilet spend a total of 97 billion hours annually just to find one. Girls without a toilet are often absent from school and miss out on the opportunity to receive a good education. Without a real bathroom, girls have no privacy, and are vulnerable to more abuse and rape.
3. There are life-threatening health consequences without toilets.
The scariest aspect of not having a proper bathroom is the increased risk to disease and illness. When human excrement is left in the open in public, the germs can easily and quickly spread to nearby food and water sources. About 80 percent of the illnesses in developing countries are linked to poor water and sanitation. If the world can solve this sanitation crisis, fewer people would get sick and die.