World’s Modern Toilet Crisis: Where We Go From Here

About forty percent of the world’s entire population do not have access to toilets, according to the Vanguard episode “World’s Toilet Crisis, ” produced by the host Adam Yamaguchi and Jim Fraenkel (2010). He goes on to reveal to the audience that this statistic sums up to 2. 6 billion people without the amenity of a toilet. As a result, people are forced to defecate in any area they can find. This happens to be streets, fields, rivers, anywhere near and convenient. Yamaguchi investigates the blaring fact regarding developing countries having to navigate around the lack of facilities in their area. As can be seen in the documentary, it often results in catastrophic, unsanity and disgusting living conditions. Yamaguchi travels to India, Indonesia and Singapore. In India, Yamaguchi reported that more people have cell phones than access to toilets. The conditions in which millions of people live are inhumane, to say the least. Yamaguchi uses the media outlet of a documentary to show children in India gathering their drinking water by having to submerge the jug in sewage water. The increased overpopulation in the country is a leading reason to the immense water pollution of the nation’s water sources. This is a dire crisis that demands attention, as more than 2 million people, with 1. 5 million children, are dying of diarrheal diseases.

The bottom line of why this is happening can be traced down to fecal contamination in the water. There has been a lack of education and knowledge when it comes to the world’s toilet crisis. To put it in simple terms, not many people know about it. This is where glocal public health campaigns come in. Essentially, the medium of such a documentary is a global public health campaign in of itself. It is showcasing the reality of the toilet crisis in a way that tugs at human emotions: disgust and fear are both effective emotional routes to induce change. The documentary has the goal of informing the audience, increasing knowledge about the toilet crisis, but it is also demanding change in doing so. There are certain obstructions against marching towards change, as Yamaguchi narrates, sanitation advocates are battling 5, 000 years of cemented culture and tradition, specifically the concept of defecating away from human habitation. It’s extremely hard to break the status quo, even if it means increasing the entire nation’s living quality exponentially. From this documentary, I learned that one of the reasons why there are a low number of rural houses with toilets are due to the culture of leaving the living area or throwing an arrow to then defecate there.

This documentary expertly showed what has and is currently being done to combat the world’s toilet crisis. In India, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak has dedicated 40 years of his life to advocating for toilet access to all Indians, especially those in the lowest caste system. He has been responsible for the installation of hundreds of toilets across India. While watching and learning of this information, I was in awe. He is truly spearheading an intensive campaign, one that should have been backed up by the national government. Once I realized he was selling toilets that really catered to the cultural needs of those in rural areas, I immediately thought that these toilets should be placed in rural areas free of any charge, on behalf of the government. While I do understand this may be unrealistic to a certain degree, I believe a partnership with organizations such a Dr. Pathak’s and the government can aid in increasing awareness of the life threatening risks to defecating in non-contained areas. As I finished watching the documentary, my mind instantly recalled a couple of statistics from “Ten Great Public Health Achievements – Worldwide, 2001-2010” released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2011. The document informs the reader that from “2000 to 2008, the world’s population increased from 6. 1 billion to 6. 7 billion”. This piece of information accounts for the rapid increase in population in developing countries, something I learned from the documentary and from the lectures from class. With so many people in the world, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that such a large portion of individuals are left without toilets. Furthermore, the CDC states that within this time frame “the portion of the world’s population with access to improved drinking water sources increased from 83% to 87% (covering an additional 800 million persons. )”

I am certain that such progress can be credited to sanitation advocates such as Jack Sim and Dr. Pathak, but I also strongly believe that we can see a greater increase in clean drinking water sources if more people were aware and working towards change. My entire family is from an impoverished part of Morocco, a country that has polarizing levels of class within its population. My grandmother grew up in a very similar area to the slums represented in the episode, it brought back a memory of her telling me that she would walk several miles to the city in order to use a private bathroom. She would remind me constantly that living in a home was such a blessing, toilets that flush were a sort of luxury for so many people in Morocco during her time. Having this issue plague so many countries across the globe, including the one I call home, I feel passionate about spreading the message of the unspoken world’s toilet crisis. The episode itself aired on 2010, further proving that despite how much progress has been made, humanity still has a long way to go before every individual’s basic human needs are met.

15 July 2020
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