November 19 is World Toilet Day. Although it is not considered an internationally observed holiday, World Toilet Day is perhaps one of the most important days for the global community to reflect on the topic of sanitation. Specifically, this day focuses on the 2.4 billion people who still lack access to basic sanitation as well as the 1 billion people who defecate in the open. Poor sanitation leads to a plethora of other problems including those related to education, nutrition, and health. Ultimately, the purpose of World Toilet Day is to start a much-needed global conversation about the importance of sanitation and clean water.
In an attempt to further this global campaign, one company in particular has stepped up to the plate in creating a comprehensive initiative to combat global sanitation concerns. Kimberly-Clark, a leading brand in personal and health care products, created the Toilets Change Lives program in 2014. Their investment of $35.8 million in product and cash donations helped to support communities that lacked essential products to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Mauricio Troncoso, vice president and managing director for Kimberly-Clark in the Western European zone, notes that “for every $1 spent on sanitation, there is a $4 return…girls stay in school longer and economic activity increases because fewer sick days are taken.” Through the Toilets Change Lives program, the company is able to identify social entrepreneurs and assist them in creating business plans to improve sanitation on a global scale.
On World Toilet Day, Kimberly-Clark will expand this program. In the UK, the Andrex band will partner with UNICEF to give a portion of all sales of their products to support UNICEF’s sanitation programs. In Bolivia, the Scott Brand will partner with Water for People in an effort to achieve total, worldwide coverage of clean water and sanitation services. Cottonelle will also partner with Water for People to raise money and awareness to combat the lack of basic sanitation programs worldwide. In an attempt to push individuals to create global chatter about the topic of sanitation, this program will sponsor a #GoCommando4ACause campaign. Finally, Kimberly-Clark has partnered with Charities Aid Foundation India (CAF) to support sanitation facilities in schools and childhood development centers in order to focus on the impact that basic sanitation has on success rates in childhood schooling.
Kimberly-Clark’s initiative is just the tip of the iceberg. The purpose of World Toilet Day is to start a much-needed conversation about sanitation across all of society. Important topics such as female rights, refugee crises, and access to basic schooling are all underscored by a humanitarian need for clean water and access to improved sanitation. The campaign charges individuals to contribute to raising awareness for this campaign by reflecting on what access to a safe toilet means to them and sharing this conversation on any social media outlet. Troncoso says, “It’s not sexy to talk about toilets but, it’s a real problem. And you can make a difference…This is an issue that, if we do it right, will change someone’s world.” The goal of World Toilet Day is to highlight that the future of safe, clean sanitation is attainable. With the proper resources and funding, we will one day ensure the safety and security of basic sanitation facilities to the entire global population.