Shocking reality of sanitation crisis faced by billions brought to London’s doorstep

A quick trip to the loo is taken for granted by almost every Brit, yet one in three people around the world do not have a clean and safe toilet of their own. Andrex® and WaterAid are bringing the global sanitation crisis faced by 2.3 billion people around the world to the attention of the country’s capital, at a pop-up installation in London’s Shoreditch Boxpark.

From 16 November until World Toilet Day on Monday 19 November, Londoners were able to see the shocking sanitary conditions millions of people around the world are forced to live with, and read first-hand accounts from communities who are suffering the effects of poor sanitation.

The striking scene, reminiscent of many unplanned urban settlements around the world, has been built as part of Andrex and WaterAid’s Toilets Change Lives initiative, to show the harsh reality for families across the globe living without a decent toilet; as well as highlighting how such basic facilities can transform lives, improving health, keeping girls in school, and helping families thrive.

Hosted in one of London’s trendiest corners, on The Green at Boxpark, the reimagining of the space coincides with the launch of WaterAid’s State of the World’s Toilets 2018 report, The Crisis in the Classroom. It reveals that the education and health of 620 million children – 10 times the population of the UK – is compromised by a lack of decent school toilets.

Every day, 800 children die from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. A lack of sanitation impacts the education of girls disproportionately. In Bangladesh alone, an overwhelming 40% of girls miss school during their periods due to the lack of decent toilets – an average of three days every cycle. Without a decent toilet of their own, women and children are often forced to put themselves in vulnerable situations just to relieve themselves in privacy.

Now in its second year, Andrex and WaterAid’s Toilets Change Lives initiative has already transformed the lives of thousands of people by constructing new or renovating existing public toilets in Bangladesh.

Sanjida Akhter, 15, used to share a toilet with 30 people in her neighbourhood, both men and women. Sanjida said: “When I went to the bathroom I had to hold my nose with one hand and the door with the other as the lock was broken from the inside. As a result of the germs, I often had an upset stomach, which meant missing school, getting in the way of my studies.”

Thanks to Toilets Change Lives, people like Sanjida and her community have benefitted from a new public toilet, meaning that women can now use the toilet with dignity and privacy. In Sanjida’s case, two female staff have also been appointed to take care of the public toilet. “This provides me with a sense of security,” Sanjida added.

A Kimberly-Clark spokesperson said:

“We believe that everyone, everywhere should have access to these basic facilities as a human right. Working with WaterAid, we’ve already achieved great progress, providing thousands of people with shared sanitation facilities and improving the public health and dignity of urban communities in Bangladesh. Our hope is that the Boxpark installation will encourage people to talk about the sanitation crisis and make them feel motivated and empowered to support this worthy cause.”

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said:

“It is unacceptable that one in three children around the world are being held back from fulfilling their potential because they don’t have a decent toilet. All children need this basic essential at home and at school for their health, education and safety. We’re delighted to be working with a household name like Andrex to raise awareness of the global sanitation crisis this World Toilet Day, and help bring us closer to the day when everyone, everywhere has a decent toilet.

“The world has promised toilets for all by 2030, but despite some progress, this ambitious target is a long way off from being met. If we are serious about all children and young people having clean water and sanitation, we must take decisive and inclusive action now.”

Through the Toilets Change Lives initiative Andrex will donate a minimum of £480,000 to WaterAid by 2020.

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