Singapore champions sanitation on first World Toilet Day

November 19, 2013

Singapore called Tuesday for greater efforts to improve sanitation in developing countries as it celebrated the inaugural UN World Toilet Day, an initiative by the cleanliness-obsessed island republic.

Grace Fu, second minister for the environment and water resources, told a conference on the subject that 80 percent of an estimated 2.5 billion people without access to basic sanitation worldwide live in Asia.

"Much still needs to be done as inadequate sanitation is a primary reason for the spread of infectious diseases, which in turn leads to increased healthcare costs and loss of productivity," she said.

The United Nations estimates that 1.1 billion people around the world defecate in the open, and almost 2,000 children die every day from preventable diarrhoeal diseases.

Poor sanitation and water supply also result in economic losses estimated at $260 billion annually in developing countries, according to the UN.

In July it designated November 19 as World Toilet Day following a proposal by Singapore, whose envoy said he did not care if people made jokes about the campaign.

"I am sure there will be laughter among the press and the public when it is reported that the UN is declaring a World Toilet Day," Singapore charge d'affaires Mark Neo said in July before a unanimous General Assembly vote in favour of the measure.

"Their laughter is welcome, especially if they recognise the prevailing and unhealthy taboo that prevents an open and serious discussion of the problems of sanitation and toilets globally," Neo told the assembly.

Singapore took up the cause because of the efforts of Jack Sim, a citizen of the city-state known as "Mr Toilet" because of his efforts to improve sanitation around the world.

The businessman is the founder of the World Toilet Organisation, which promotes through advocacy, technology, education and creating business opportunities for toilet-related companies in developing nations.

Explore further: Poor sanitation kills 2.7 mn people a year, UN reports

Related Stories

UN seeks to end toilet 'taboo'

March 22, 2013

The United Nations launched a campaign Friday to lift a deadly taboo on talking about toilets and to turn the world into an "open defecation-free zone."

UN declares World Toilet Day

July 24, 2013

The United Nations on Wednesday declared November 19 as World Toilet Day following a proposal by Singapore whose envoy said he did not care if jokes are made.

Recommended for you

Older people getting smarter, but not fitter

August 31, 2015

Older populations are scoring better on cognitive tests than people of the same age did in the past —a trend that could be linked to higher education rates and increased use of technology in our daily lives, say IIASA population ...

Higher intelligence score means better physical performance

August 14, 2015

New research reveals a distinct association between male intelligence in early adulthood and their subsequent midlife physical performance. The higher intelligence score, the better physical performance, the study reveals. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.