First, the obligatory sermonizing - this is from World Toilet Day Press Kit. The fraction of the world population without access to adequate sanitation is 40%. This is the combined population of all of North America and Europe, doubled. 2.6 billion people. Without toilets, these folks are stuck with "open defecation" which is exactly what it sounds like. This causes all sorts of illnesses and disease. Unsafe water, inadequate hygiene and insufficient hygiene are responsible for the deaths of two million children under the age of five every year.
WHO estimates that improved water, sanitation and hygiene could reduce the global disease burden by 9.1%. I admit that what got me first interested in World Toilet Day is that my highly developed style of humour is quite connected with toilets and POOP, but this is a serious actual thing. And it's more than just reducing disease - it's a serious quality of life issue. Even folks not at risk of dying from diarrhea stand to gain massively from better methods of dealing with their excreta.
Also too, this is one of those issues that should really speak to liberals and progressives. The most likely to be affected are the people with the fewest resources. The most at risk are children and women in patriarchal societies. The impact of reduced disease burden allows struggling communities in developing nations to dedicate more of their efforts to education or food production or a host of things that aren't lying down sick and dehydrated hoping not to die.
What can you do to help? Raising awareness is the first step. Without recognizing the issue, not much can be done. If you want to volunteer or make a donation, there's any number of organizations that are making efforts to address this issue.
-The folks behind World Toilet Day are here.
-Water Aid USA is another option.
-Here's UNICEF's list of partners in water and sanitation.
Okay. World Toilet Day is a serious, for real thing. Something that warrants serious, for real thinking. But despite all the seriousness, toilets are still funny, so here's my collection of amusing and interesting intarwebs POOP for World Toilet Day 2011:
Bill Gates gets World Toilet Day.
Sanitation for Occupy protests occupy this "reporter".
POOP War on Christmas.
Twenty five POOPS for FREEDOM!!!
Something for architects to think about.
Remember how SF wanted to name a waste treatment plant after W? Well, teh higher powers involved in toilet related issues decided to screw with his dad instead.
And of course, we are going to close out with a song.
UPDATE: Fixed a link