Sustainable Development Goal Six aims to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations by 2030.
Two weeks ago Dara Johnston, the Chief of UNICEF Water, Sanitation And Hygiene (WASH) Operations in Somalia dropped by the UNICEF Ireland Office and spoke to us about the problem of open defecation, or squatting outdoors instead of using toilets.
As you can see below, in 47 countries, areas or territories, less than half of the population uses improved sanitation- or toilets. [Source: http://www.data.unicef.org/water-sanitation/sanitation.html 2015]
Why is not using toilets a bad idea?
Firstly medical conditions and diseases such as cholera, diahrrea and bilharzia are easily spread through open defecation. This ground pollution also taints water supplies and crops grown. The lack of dignity and bodily integrity also leads to children and women being put in vulnerable situations when they are squatting outdoors.
Why don't we just build toilets?
Dara explained to us that in a lot of instances the practice is rooted in a communities culture and habits so UNICEF engage with people to reconsider their cultural norms and assess the impact their practices have on their community's health.
Has WASH been successful in some areas?
Yes! In Bangladesh the culture of using improved sanitation facilities has shifted dramatically over the past two decades which has resulted in better health in those communities. Once this positive outcome was seen in one community, neighboring communities became more likely to follow suit.
Did you know that this was a big problem? How do you think we could improve this? Tell us on Twitter @unicefIRLyouth