Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In

Which of the world’s cities has the longest line for the washroom?

By Nicole Hurtubise      

In Madagascar, where the PM was last month, 88 per cent have no basic toilets.

Zara, 8, second from left, stands with her friends underneath a chalk line that illustrates how tall eight-year-olds should be, at Betesda Primary Public School, near to Morondava, Madagascar. Kate Holt photograph courtesy of WaterAid
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

More than 700 million people live in urban areas without access to proper sanitation. Put into context, the line-up for people waiting for toilets in our cities and towns would stretch around the world 29 times.

WaterAid’s second annual report on the state of the world’s toilets, Overflowing Cities, examines the status of urban sanitation around the globe. With more than half of the world’s population living in towns, cities, and megacities, a number expected to rise to two-thirds by 2050, the state of urban sanitation is becoming an increasingly pressing issue.

Last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of international development and La Francophonie, travelled to Antananarivo, Madagascar for the 2016 Francophonie Summit.

Poor sanitation is a familiar story in Madagascar where 88 per cent of the population does not have access to basic toilets. Diarrheal illnesses kill an estimated 3,000 Malagasy children each year. And 49 per cent of Madagascar’s children are stunted from malnutrition, their growth and development irreversibly damaged by poor nutrition and chronic intestinal infections.

Stunting is a lifelong consequence of malnutrition in the first two years of a child’s life and is largely irreversible after that age. Malnutrition is not just caused by a lack of food. A lack of access to a safe toilet, clean water, and good hygiene practices plays a major role too, as repeated bouts of diarrhea—often caused by dirty water and unhygienic environments—are directly linked to malnutrition.

Diarrheal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation are the second biggest killer of children under five after pneumonia, taking 315,000 young lives every year. Even those children who survive severe bouts of diarrhea are at risk of having their lives, and life chances, forever changed.

As cities expand, the numbers of urbanites living without basic sanitation has swelled. Without systems for removing human waste, almost 100 million urban-dwellers have little option but to practice open defecation, using roadsides, railway tracks and even plastic bags known as “flying toilets,” The remaining 600 million people without access to proper sanitation rely on toilets that do not fulfil minimum requirements of hygiene, safety, or privacy including dirty and crowded communal toilets, and rudimentary pit or bucket latrines.

Global Goal 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals commits the global community to providing everyone, everywhere with access to water and sanitation by 2030, leaving no one behind. With nearly 2.4 billion people still without basic toilets and more than 650 million without access to clean water, there is still much work to be done.

Setting aside the statistics, the one thing we know for sure is that good sanitation is the bedrock of public health. Everyone deserves access to a toilet, not only for personal dignity, but to avoid the many preventable health risks, such as diarrhea and cholera, associated with improper sanitation. We need to prioritize the provision of safe toilets for everyone for a healthier, more sustainable future.

The sanitation crisis requires a combined global effort if we are going to reach everyone, everywhere with a decent toilet by 2030. Canada has an opportunity to lead by example and champion the human right to both water and sanitation by making it the cornerstone of Canada’s international development strategy. In doing so, we can transform the lives of the poorest and marginalized, help end malnutrition, and improve the lives of millions of the world’s most vulnerable populations, including women and girls.

Nicole Hurtubise is the CEO of WaterAid Canada.

The Hill Times

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning

Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Election 2019 campaign one of the most ‘uninspiring, disheartening, and dirtiest’ in 40 years, says Savoie

News|By Abbas Rana
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she has never seen an election where mudslinging overwhelmingly dominated the campaign, leaving little or no time for policy discussion.

Strategic voting to determine if Liberals will form government, say political players

News|By Abbas Rana
As many as nine per cent of progressive voters could vote strategically in this close election potentially affecting the outcome in more than 100 ridings, says Innovative Research president Greg Lyle.

Turkish offensive should pressure feds to act on repatriation of Canadian citizens in Kurdish-controlled ISIS detention camps, says expert

News|By Neil Moss
The issue of repatriation will be less politically fraught after the election, says expert.

Business tops experience among 2019 candidates, one-third have run for office before

Here’s an analysis of the record 1,700-plus candidates running for the six major parties this election.

Pod save us all: the growing role of political podcasts in election 2019

News|By Mike Lapointe
The Hill Times spoke with some podcast hosts taking a deeper dive into the political nitty-gritty, within a medium that only continues to grow in popularity.

No-shows from Conservative candidate could hurt party’s chances in tight Kanata-Carleton race, say politicos

News|By Palak Mangat
The Conservative's candidate, Justin McCaffrey, has skipped two events, including a debate on the environment, intended to feature all candidates.

For whom will the bell toll in Peterborough-Kawartha?

In a riding where voters are deeply engaged in the political process, candidates avoid the low-hanging fruit and stay out of the mud as they grapple with who to send to the House of Commons.

Singh’s strong campaign an internal win, whatever the outcome, New Democrats say

Jagmeet Singh’s impressive campaign has ‘rescued’ and ‘refocused’ the NDP after the failed 2015 effort, Ed Broadbent says.

The astrophysicist whose polling aggregator is projecting the election

News|By Neil Moss
The mastermind behind 338Canada, poll aggregator Philippe Fournier, is aiming to correctly call 90 per cent of the seats in the Oct. 21 race.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.