Today marks World Toilet Day and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), a UN-Water Partner is committed to engaging the water community in this public education effort.

As an organization, WEF is dedicated to supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a focus on SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation. SDG 6 calls for universal access to adequate and equitable sanitation and the end of open defecation by 2030. WEF, its members and strategic partners, work to educate, build community, and communicate the importance of WASH, key to hygiene and more equitable economic development.

Step back and think for a moment, when was the last time you even thought about your toilet and what having one means? It seems like such a non-issue when you always have access to one, but for 3.6 billion people that are living without a ‘safely managed sanitation service’, it is cause for great concern. Over one billion people worldwide are still practicing open defecation. *

Lack of proper sanitation leads to feces contaminated drinking water sources, food crops, beaches and rivers, increasing waterborne and foodborne illnesses including diarrhea, dysentery and cholera. All of these factors pose an all-around risk to public health, and stunts human, social and economic development. 

In the case of women, especially those that are culturally ostracized during menstruation, the lack of access to toilets or inadequate public toilets results in women refraining from attending school or participating in other socioeconomic activities. This in turn perpetuates the cycle of poverty for women and has an impact on the economy as a whole. Women are also left vulnerable to harassment, rape and other forms of violent attacks when they have inadequate access to proper toilet facilities.

You ask yourself, what can I do?

  1. Help educate your family and your community about the importance of access to toilets and sanitation using materials provided by UN-Water.
  2. Volunteer with or donate to organizations that provide sanitation services and access to clean water including Engineers Without Borders, WaterAid, Water for People and
  3. Watch and be inspired by the documentary Brave Blue World to see how different communities are addressing water and sanitation issues.

 Join us by adding your voice and taking action to accelerate access to safe toilets and sanitation and moving toward the creation of a more equitable world. 

 The next time you use the loo, say thank you!

 For more information on World Toilet Day visit: World Toilet Day | United Nations

*Source: Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020


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Laila Sukkariyyah

Laila Sukkariyyah is the senior manager of global programs at the Water Environment Federation. During her 20-year tenure, she has held several positions in the organization including the director of marketing, pavilion sales and sales development. In her current role, Laila manages WEF's collaboration with UN-Water, participation in international events and global activities at WEFTEC.

Laila earned a bachelor's degree in political science and anthropology from Eckerd College and a masters in international development from The American University. Laila's multi-cultural background and "third culture kid" upbringing, contributes to WEF's global leadership in the water sector.

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