In Latin America and the Caribbean, millions of people live in poverty and lack safely managed sanitation systems. More than 15 million people practice open defecation and 1 out of 5 do not have access to any type of facility to wash their hands. This leads to the contamination of water by human waste, and the transmission of diseases related to the lack of hygiene systems, as evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, where frequent hand washing is the main prevention measure.
In addition to this, the region is being strongly affected by climate change, disasters related to water resources have doubled in the last twenty years. These events represent a threat to sanitation and hygiene systems. For example, hurricanes or rising sea levels can destroy infrastructure, pollute waters, and lead to related diseases. Likewise, droughts impede the proper functioning of sanitation and hygiene systems, especially in the most vulnerable areas. In addition, another important interrelation between sanitation systems and climate change is the consumption of a large amount of energy in the processes of collection, treatment, distribution of water and collection, transport and treatment of human waste, emitting greenhouse gases. Improving the efficiency of these systems, as well as exploring the possibility of the safe reuse of human waste for energy generation, would help reduce emissions.
World Toilet Day tries to remind the population of the need to ensure that sanitation systems work properly every day of the year, so that people can live in safe and clean environments and this year, it also aims to realize the importance of act on climate change to make this possible.