Why World Toilet Day is vitally important: My story from Kenya

This piece from ONE Mom Jennifer James was originally published on her blog earlier this week.

Can be kept clean too

When I was in Kenya this past July on the ONE Moms trip, I had quite a rude awakening when we traveled to rural areas -– a lack of toilets. There were not very many places for us to use the bathroom, unless we wanted to go in the bush or use one of the local latrines.

On the first day in Kisumu, in the western part of Kenya, I was forced to choose between using a latrine or waiting to get to a local hospital. Deciding I couldn’t wait, I walked to the latrine with a few of the other moms. Upon stepping in, I could barely breathe — the latrine smelled entirely of feces and urine and I absolutely could not overcome the smell to use the bathroom. Little did I know that it was one of the more sanitary latrines I would encounter during our time in rural Kenya. In Kibera, the lack of access to proper toilets was noticeable as well with bags of feces lining the streets. It’s no wonder cholera outbreaks are frequent.

It was then I realized something has to be done about sanitation in areas that desperately need it.

The lack of sanitary latrines in countries around the world is a serious problem and lack of sanitation claims the lives of thousands of people every year through connected diseases such as cholera and rotavirus, and parasites. It is vital to get this problem under control in order to save people from sickness and death.

November 19th is World Toilet Day; the goal of which is to spotlight how important it is to get sanitation under control. And while there is a lot to be done, there is good news.

Some universities with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are coming up with smart ways to manage sanitation issues in developing nations.

What is needed now? More investments in sanitation as well as smart ideas to solve the sanitation problem to ensure access to proper sanitation and improve ways countries discard waste.

I’ve seen it first hand. We are lucky to have indoor plumbing in our country.