The global sanitation challenge

14 October 2013
By now many of you will have had a look at the webpage for the UN International Day of the Girl Child, an event that took place last Friday. If not, please do go to and find out more about how much progress has been made and how much needs to be done in recognising girls’ rights and the challenges girls face around the world. Among the things that would help girls worldwide, as we have indicated through our own Girls for Girls programme, is greater availability of sanitary products. The simple provision of such items would allow more girls to go to school, even at difficult times during the month. But it also helps if those same girls have access to private and hygienic facilities where they can change and clean themselves. Without those facilities, even if there is a regular supply of sanitary products, many girls would feel, to say the least, self-conscious and insecure - and may avoid school altogether. Which brings us to World Toilet Day. It’s perhaps a surprising title for an annual event but the taboo around toilets and the global sanitation challenge are no joke. As the site itself ( asks:can you imagine not having a toilet? Can you imagine not having privacy when you need to relieve yourself? World Toilet Day asks those questions and aims to raise global awareness of the daily struggle for proper sanitation - and has done so since 2001. It brings together many different groups - private and public - in a global movement to advocate for safe toilets. And it’s a campaign that today is needed as much as ever. Remember: 2.5 billion people do not have a clean toilet. 1.1 billion people around the world practice open defecation. Sanitation is essential for both social and economic development. And, as we have said earlier, safe toilet facilities can help to keep girls in school. The fact that World Toilet Day has existed for over a decade is proof that these issues matter. Reliable sanitation and safe defecation are essentials to health - and we should know. Sanitation is the focus of much of Friends of Londiani’s work in Kenya. World Toilet Day is still over a month away (on the 19th of November, to be precise), but the benefits of good sanitation to health and education are always worth highlighting - and will continue to play a major role in the work we do in Kenya. We're grateful to the organisations that have come together for World Toilet Day to raise awareness of the global sanitation challenge.