#TIL World Toilet Day
📷: View of sanitation in rural villages in 1952. Holes are dug in the ground to deposit human waste and lime powder (in the buckets) are sprinkled over the waste before being covered back with earth; via Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.
#TIL that Singapore initiated a resolution at the United Nations in 2013, which led to the designation of 19 November as #WorldToiletDay: reflecting the international community’s recognition of the importance of improved sanitation for all.
The resolution is also a call for all countries to approach sanitation in a broader context — to include hygiene promotion, provision of sanitation services, sewerage and wastewater management, and reuse of water in integrated water management.
Almost half of the global population or 3.6 billion people today still lack safe sanitation and every day, over 800 children under five die from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and poor hygiene. Sanitation greatly affects our quality of life.
In 1965, only 45% of Singapore’s population had access to proper sanitation. But with years of planning and commitment, our rivers were cleaned up, businesses and industries were relocated, squatters were resettled, and new infrastructure was created. By the 1990s, all Singaporeans had access to proper sanitation.
While sanitation standards in Singapore has improved significantly since the 1960s, better sanitation is an ongoing process. There is also room for improvement — according to a nationwide study conducted by SMU in 2020, our public toilets are dirtier in 2020 than in 2016.
How often do we still enter public toilets with some trepidation: will it be toilet seats with dirty footprints, number two unflushed, yellow droplets left behind by those with 1/10 aiming? Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong once said: “We should measure our graciousness according to the cleanliness of our public toilets” — so let’s play our part for cleaner toilets.