Day 105: Let’s talk crap, seriously

Plunged into the world of sanitation after a regular trip to the toilet, journalist Rose George began to question whether a decent toilet is our right and if so, why doesn’t everybody have access to one?
2.5 million people worldwide have inadequate sanitation. In villages in India and slums in Africa, it is normal to see people defecating in the street. It’s a major problem. 50 diseases like to travel in human faeces. While we may laugh at it, diarrhoea is a massive issue worldwide. It kills more children than HIV/ AIDS,TB and measles put together. 250 billion dollars are lost each year due to poor sanitation. Having a flushing toilet prevents far more diseases than installing clean water supplies, yet the focus never seems to be on this basic need.
George tells us a few other little known facts about poo also:
A toilet can put a girl back in school- 25% of girls in India drop out of school due to inadequate sanitation.
In Rwandan prisons, they get 75% of their fuel to cook from poo, saving a million dollars a year.
There is now a new career path called stool donor. The cure rate for the superbug C-DIFF is 94% in people who’ve received donations of healthy human faeces.
So the solution must be simple; we give everybody a toilet. George reminds us we need to appeal to the emotions of the individual in order to change their habits. Health promotion experts have been quick to find novel ways to make people aware of poo, such as putting a plate of food and a plate of faeces on display in an Indian village and allowing people to see how many flies landed on the latter. One such country where people were wiping with sticks and using pit latrines 70 years ago is Japan. Now the Japanese upgrade their toilets and talk about them. Rose George reckons it’s time we all did the same.


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