17/11/17Wastewater Services 

19 November is World Toilet Day

Why a World Toilet Day?

Today, billions of people don’ have access to adequate sanitation, and this causes death and illness, damage to the environment and holds back economic growth. 2,000 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by diseases caused from poor sanitation. The World Toilet Day aims to highlight each year the effects of poor sanitation and hygiene and to inspire everyone to take action to solve this global crisis.The international community agreed two years ago with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) on a dedicated water and sanitation goal. This goal number 6 aims to reach everyone with sanitation, and halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse by 2030 – so we have a lot of work to do.


The World Toilet Day is the international day about taking action on sanitation issues. The First United Nations World Toilet Day was celebrated on 19 November 2013. It has been held annually since then.  Each year, the United Nations set a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge. In 2017 it is “Wastewater”.

Further information: 

What has sanitation got to do with toilets and water operators?

To achieve the sanitation goal, we need each person´s “output” to be contained, transported, treated and disposed of in a safe and sustainable way. This is a human right and it can be achieved through wastewater management. Operators collect the wastewater, treat it and then release it back into the nature or for further re-use. They can also turn the wastes in wastewater into reusable resources using a circular economy approach. 


Today, billions of people around the world cannot enjoy their human right to sanitation. This means that wastewater systems and treatment are either non-existent or ineffective. As a consequence, human waste is left untreated and causes deadly diseases spread with severe impact on health of the people and the environment.


Wastewater management is one of the biggest challenges to better protect human and environmental health. Although in most countries, wastewater management has lower priority than water provision, there is an urgent need to promote effective wastewater treatment and disposal, and to encourage the protection of ecosystems. Legal framework and cross-sectoral policy are essential.

What do private water and wastewater operators do?

Private water and wastewater operators are private companies that provide public water and wastewater services. The public authorities control and direct them. They decide through the contract with the private operator the details and perimeters of this public services. This includes tariffs and extension of the service. Private water operators deliver safe water and sanitation services to all water and wastewater users, who are people, businesses, institutions and the environment.

Access to adequate sanitation

Universal access to adequate sanitation is a fundamental need and human right. Securing access for all would go a long way in reducing illness and death. Since 2000, 1.4 billion people have gained access to basic sanitation, such as flush toilets or latrine with a slab which are not shared with other households. The data reveal pronounced disparities, with the poorest and those living in informal settlements, slums and rural areas least likely to use a basic service. One of the main causes of drinking water pollution and diarrhea incidences is open defecation. This requires an urgent need to promote and implement effective wastewater treatment and disposal.

What is “safely managed” - “basic service” - “limited service” ?

“Safely managed” sanitation services represent a higher service level that takes into account the final disposal of excreta. In 2015, 2.9 billion people used a “safely managed” sanitation service, i.e. a basic facility where excreta are disposed in situ or treated off-site. A further 2 billion people use a “basic service”, i.e. an improved facility that is not shared with other households. The 600 million who shared improved sanitation facilities with other households count as a “limited service”.

  • On average humans produce 128g of fresh faeces per person per day. With more than 7.5 billion people on this planet, this is a lot of daily human waste production.
  • More than 200 million tons of human waste goes untreated every year. Worldwide 80-90% of sewage is discharged directly into rivers, lakes, and seas, untreated and without being reused. This has to be changed.
  • Only 39% of the global population use a safely-managed sanitation service, that is, excreta safely disposed of in situ or treated off-site.
  • 1.8 billion people use an unimproved source of drinking water with no protection against contamination from faeces.
  • 60% of the population either have not toilet at home or one that doesn’t safely mange human waste (excreta).
  • Almost 869 million people still practised open defecation.
  • Combined with safe water and good hygiene, improved sanitation could prevent around 842,000 deaths each year.