The straight poop
November 19 was World Toilet Day. Water, sanitation and hygiene issues should speak to all of us, but especially politicians.
The Liberals are proud of their feminist international assistance policy and support for gender equality in Canada and abroad, but should be very concerned that for almost 900 million people, the only place to go is outside. Particularly dangerous for women and girls as they are often sexually attacked. One out of three schools in the world have no toilets so girls in particular stop showing up in their teens.
The number of children under the age of five dying each year has more than halved thanks to the Conservative’s 2010 maternal, newborn and child health initiative. But mothers are still giving birth in hospitals that have no running water and no toilets. It is not surprising that this poor sanitation leads to a newborn dying every minute and sepsis accounting for 11 percent of maternal deaths.
I am asking you to challenge all political parties to outdo each other in preparing a Canadian aid policy that addresses these needs as part of their 2019 election platform.
Everybody poops, it’s a universal human reality. But almost a billion people have no choice but to do so in the outside. Aside from the lack of dignity, this places women at risk of violence as they seek the cover of darkness alone. Such lack of sanitation also leads to widespread contamination of drinking water, and incalculable death and disease.
Nobody likes to talk about poop, and maybe that’s why World Toilet Day has come and gone with little acknowledgement in the media. Perhaps that’s also why only one percent of Canada’s foreign aid goes towards sanitation, but squeamishness about a necessary life function is no reason to ignore sanitation as a critical focus for aid.