Plumbers' thoughts on World Toilet Day 2013

Nov. 21, 2013
United Nations declares November 19 as World Toilet Day

For some people it’s hard to imagine – not having a toilet, but there are billions of people in the world today that do not have access to one. World Toilet Day, a global non-profit organization, was created 12 years ago with the goal of improving the conditions of toilets and sanitation worldwide. Just yesterday, the United Nations declared Nov. 19 as World Toilet Day.

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According to the article “World Toilet Day aims to improve sanitation for 2.5 billion” by Frances Cha of, the lack of sanitation that the Tacloban region, one of the many areas in the Philippines devastated from the typhoon, is now facing has thrown a spotlight on sanitation, thus, the United Nations General Assembly declared this year would kick off the inaugural World Toilet Day on November 19. Frances Cha provides interesting facts in regards to the lack of toilets:

“Some sobering facts about the world's lack of toilets, according to the United Nations:
  • 2.5 billion people -- one in three people in the world -- do not have a toilet or access to sustainable sanitation
  • Diarrheal diseases are the second most common cause of death in young children in developing countries
  • They kill more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined
  • In many countries girls stay home during menstruation days because of the absence of a safe place to change and clean themselves, and many drop out altogether”

Read more of Frances Cha's full article: "World Toilet Day aims to improve sanitation for 2.5 billion."

The question that comes to mind as Senior Editor of CONTRACTOR is what do plumbers think of World Toilet Day? Is this something plumbers in the U.S should support?

I talked to Dave Yates, an industry expert and CONTRACTOR magazine columnist, about World Toilet Day. He pointed out that less than 1/4 of 1% of the world's water is available for use where plumbing is concerned and that we — the U.S. — is uniquely blessed to have one of the safest most sanitary potable water systems in the world.

Yates believes that plumbers are taken for granted because of this, but when looking at history, contaminated water was once the leading cause of death both around the world and here at home.

In the article “Waterless toilets: an open letter to Bill Gates” Yates noted that disease and pestulence brought about by improper disposal of human waste was, at one time, the single largest cause of death for humans and caused many of the worst world-wide pandemics. In major port cities in the U.S., during the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was not uncommon for thousands to die each year from typhoid, cholera and dysentery.”

When talking with Yates about World Toilet Day he said that even though we—the U.S. — leads the world in sanitary plumbing, it was only the decades long struggle by professional plumbers, sanitary engineers, and codes officials working in collaboration for the betterment of mankind that resulted in a mostly secure future for the health of the nation.

“WTD strives to bring that wellness to the balance of humanity,” said Yates. “A tip-o-the-hat to Matt Damon for stepping up.” Matt Damon is cofounder of and is collaborating with other organization to bring attention to the sanitation and water crisis.

As a U.S. plumber, do you support World Toilet Day? Comment below and let us know your opinion.

About the Author

Candace Roulo

Candace Roulo, senior editor of CONTRACTOR and graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, has 15 years of industry experience in the media and construction industries. She covers a variety of mechanical contracting topics, from sustainable construction practices and policy issues affecting contractors to continuing education for industry professionals and the best business practices that contractors can implement to run successful businesses.      

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