Squatters unite for World Toilet Day

Since 2001, November 19 has marked World Toilet Day as part of an effort to break the silence surrounding sanitation issues in both richer and poorer countries. The World Toilet Organisation's initiative for 2009 is The Big Squat, and participants have been getting down on their haunches for charity.

The Big Squat is a sponsorship and publicity drive, encouraging participants to squat for one minute as part of the campaign.

The Plasactie group in Belgium are squatting outside the capital's City Hall to urge the implementation of free public toilet facilities for women.

In London, WaterAid and commercial director Kit Lynch-Robinson have transformed the Hyde Park men's loos into an exhibition space, with such things as maggots, toilet water, and special smells to show what life without decent sanitation is like.

Swedish organisation Hygiene Matters are launching a photo competition, and asking happy snappers to send in pictures of 'the freshest, most interesting or most beautiful public toilets' for display on their website, hygienemattersatsca.com.

World Toilet Day events elsewhere are oriented around health education initiatives and the strengthening of political and financial will. For example, Action India have been preparing various awareness programmes, World Vision International are putting on seminars and activity sessions in Nepal, and the Movement for the Prevention of Gender Equality in Liberia are using the day to launch their community-based 'Clean Up Libera' campaign.

The World Toilet Organisation themselves are encouraging website visitors to head over to EndWaterPoverty.org and help improve sanitation and water quality where it's needed most.

2.5 billion men, women and children (over a third of the world's total population) are currently without satisfactory sanitation, which in turn leads to 1.8 million preventable deaths a year from diarrhea, dysentery, and other infections.

This means that diarrheal disease is even more of a contributor to child fatality rates in the developing world than the HIV/AIDS virus.

For areas of the world that do have a toilet system, the World Toilet Organisation campaigns for cleanliness of restrooms and water supply, parity of access for women, and the public availability of free toileting facilities.

Official website: worldtoiletday.com
How to squat for World Toilet Day: youtube.com/watch?v=6bO2-odrWdY
Interview with Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, winner of the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize: youtube.com/watch?v=RD71mkiF8AI

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