What is World Toilet Day and why is it important?

More people have access to a phone than a toilet. Credit: PA

Can you imagine life without having access to a toilet?

World Toilet Day may seem trivial to many but 4.5 billion people around the globe lack access to a safe toilet.

The UN has called for this to change by 2030 as part of its Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Who does this problem affect?

Children are the most vulnerable group, with 620 million of the world's schoolchildren, nearly twice the population of America, lacking access to decent facilities.

As a result of this most children are forced to use the bushes, run home to use the toilet or if they are menstruating, miss the entire school day.

In sub-Saharan Africa the problem is exacerbated at home.

Around 344 million children lack access to a toilet where they live - this is equivalent to the combined populations of the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland,Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Women around the world are also affected with around 445 million women forced to use toilets out in the open, according to UN Women.

  • State of toilets around the world

Five countries ranked according to percentage of population without basic access to sanitation (source: Water Aid: The Crisis in the Classroom The State of the World’s Toilets 2018)

  • What's being done about the problem?

In India the government have pledged to build 110 million toilets by 2019.

The problem is being tackled in various ways across the globe with world leaders promising to improve sanitation.

In India, the government has pledged to build 110 million toilets by 2019.

Seven in ten schools now have basic toilets that children can access.

Scientists are also finding solutions to fit in with communities who lack access to running water.

A toilet, created by researchers by Bedford's Cranfield University, was designed to work without any water.

Dubbed the nanomembrane toilet it functions by pushing solids to the bottom once the lid closes without using any external energy or water.

  • What about the UK?

Workers in the UK are also affected according to Britain's biggest trade union.

Tens of thousands of workers in the UK lack access to toilets, Britain's biggest trade union has said.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “It is simply disgraceful that in 2018 tens of thousands of UK workers are denied toilet dignity at work.

“The examples that Unite has revealed are simply staggering and it is clearly deeply humiliating for the workers who are being denied toilet dignity."