Loo with a view, Kenilworth, Queensland

Loo with a view and a few spiders, Kenilworth, Queensland

November 19 is World Toilet Day and before you recount any pending toilet jokes you’ve saved up, do note it’s recognised by the United Nations! That means Toilet Day is far more serious than you think and that’s because (according to World Toilet Day):

  • 2.5 billion people do not have a clean toilet
  • 1.1 billion people defecate in the open
  • Investing $1 in sanitation generates a return of $5

I read Mulk Raj Anand’s book Untouchable (click to see on Amazon) last year, about the day in the life of an untouchable, an Indian boy whose job it is to clean the latrines. The lowest of the low, Bakha searches for an escape from the destiny to which he was born. He is presented with two options throughout the book – one to convert to Christianity where there is no caste system and the other from the teachings of Gandhi who calls for the freeing of Harijans. However Bakha comes up with his own solution – technology, in the form of a flush toilet, that would eliminate the need for a caste of toilet cleaners. Ingenious.

Flush toilets or not, it’s probably hard in the West to appreciate what not having a toilet is like until you’ve lived without one for any length of time (and I don’t mean just when you’re camping!) We’ve all probably had a good laugh at the obscure places we’ve found toilets, and the terrible condition some are in at times, but their existence is important and the images below celebrate them. When you sit down today give thanks for your toilet. And if you feel inspired check out the official page above for ways to get involved.

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