Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World Toilet Day, observed on 19 November:
Life without a toilet is dirty, dangerous and undignified.
Everyone should have access to hygienic, safe, and sustainable sanitation. Yet 3.6 billion people still live without safely managed sanitation, threatening health, harming the environment and hindering economic development.
Every day, 700 children under 5 years old die from diseases linked to unsafe water and sanitation. Toilets save lives and drive improvements in gender equality and in society as a whole.
We need urgent and massive investment and innovation along the entire “sanitation chain”, from toilets to the transport, collection and treatment of human waste.
Delivering on this basic human right — the right to water and sanitation — is good for people, business and our planet. For every $1 invested in toilets and sanitation, up to $5 is returned in saved medical costs, better health, increased productivity, education and jobs.
History teaches us that rapid progress is possible. Many countries have transformed their health systems by acting on sanitation facilities and ensuring everyone has access to toilets.
On World Toilet Day, let us keep our promise to leave no one behind and take action to deliver health and sanitation for all.