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Water Sanitation: World Toilet Day, 19 November 2018

Published Thursday, November 8, 2018

This House of Lords Library Briefing provides information on water sanitation and the United Nations’ World Toilet Day, which takes place on 19 November 2018.

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On 24 July 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 19 November as World Toilet Day. The resolution called on UN member states and relevant stakeholders to encourage behavioural change and implement policies to increase access to sanitation among the poor.  Further, it called countries to approach sanitation through: hygiene promotion; the provision of basic sanitation services; sewerage and wastewater treatment; and reuse in integrated water management.

To also help combat global issues, including a lack of access to sanitation services, in September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda, titled Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda includes a collection of 17 global goals—known as Sustainable Development Goals—and 169 associated targets. Sustainable Development Goal Six calls on UN member states to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the transmission of several diseases, including cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio, is linked to dirty water and inadequately treated sewage.  WHO notes that waterborne diseases are linked to “significant disease burden worldwide”, with waterborne diarrhoeal diseases responsible for two million deaths each year. Of which, the majority occurs in children under 5 years old. To tackle such issues, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has grouped water, sanitation and hygiene together due to each subject being “dependent on the presence of the other”.  For example, without sanitation services, such as toilets, water sources become contaminated; and without clean water, basic hygiene practices are “not possible”.   

Lords Library notes LLN-2018-0119

Author: Eren Waitzman

Topic: International development

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