Today is World Toilet Day and one billion people have nowhere to go

REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

Some 2.4 billion people around the world don’t have access to decent sanitation and more than a billion are forced to defecate in the open, risking disease and other dangers, according to the United Nations.

Launching its World Toilet Day campaign for Nov 19, the UN said poor sanitation increases the risk of illness and malnutrition, especially for children, and called for women and girls in particular to be offered safe, clean facilities.

“One out of three women around the world lack access to safe toilets,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. “As a result they face disease, shame and potential violence when they seek a place to defecate.”

Even where there are toilets around the world, some hardly warrant the name, as illustrated by Reuters in a photo essay from around the world…

The UN says that while there is sufficient fresh water on the planet for everyone, “bad economics and poor infrastructure” mean that every year millions of people – most of them children – die from diseases linked to poor sanitation, unhygienic living conditions and lack of clean water supplies.

One of those times when it’s hard to speak of moral imperatives – living in a nation that thinks “moral imperatives” are code words for ancient bigotry and superstition run rampant.

Still, we are keepers of our sisters and brothers on this small ball of mud, 3rd from the sun. The good fortune – and accident of birth – we enjoy includes the responsibility to provide aid and comfort to all who share this ride through an infinite universe.

UPDATE: Here’s a Reuters photo essay to accompany this article. Worth seeing.

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