Let’s break the taboo and talk toilets!

Nov 19th 2016 was World Toilet Day

On that day, the UN asked us to lift the taboo and talk toilets.
Have you had a stomach upset or a Urinary Tract Infection lately?

Sometimes they can come upon you unexpectedly can’t they?

Maybe you decided to take a sick day so that you could make use of your bathroom at home to avoid passing your germs on to others.

Public Toilets

If you “soldiered on”, perhaps you would have felt the need to break your commute & go in search of a Public Toilet. We don’t always find these conveniences in the condition we would like. We can blame the slack toileting habits of some members of the general public for those occasions when we make a bolt for the door of the Ladies or Gents, only to find it firmly locked.

Most of us can manage to hang on.  We cross our legs as well as our fingers as we beg the management for the key. Those of us who can’t hold on have learned to plan our trips around the facilities, or lack thereof. We make a note of service stations, shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas. Do they provide reasonably clean facilities and are they open when we need them?

My friend Caree has been breaking the toilet taboo since August, with her Privy Disclosure Bog Blog. In her latest post linked below, she reports on some of the toilets visited
on her recent  trip to the States:

In a Land of Invention and Cleanliness.

It certainly does look nice and clean Caree.

Keeping it clean

Busy public loos are usually the worst in terms of cleanliness. My toilet strategy, in a row of cubicles, is to choose the last but one. It assumes that whoever was in a great hurry and making the most mess will have chosen the first or nearest cubicle. Anyone in for a long “sit” will go right to the end. My hope is that the penultimate cubicle will be the least used and so the cleanest. Believe it or not this does sometimes work.

WorldToiletDayAnd is it just me, or do any of you have difficulty with the locked-in toilet paper? So frustrating when the roll has been put in in the wrong direction or without the end being pulled away. I try to keep a pack of emergency tissues with me at all times. It’s great to see these seat cleaner dispensers everywhere now, but who is it that positions them just where I’m sure to knock it and spray myself with the strong-smelling cleaner? It fair overpowers my Chanel. (Call me sexist, but I suspect it’s a male person who installs them.)
Some pee-ers don’t know that the seat cleaner is for them to use after they have wet the seat. Not for those who follow to clean up after them!

Let’s hope my moaning today about public peeing will help break the taboo about sanitation. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to deal with a sudden onset of diarrhea without access to any kind of toilet at all? 2.4 billion people in the world, or one in ten, still have to live without a toilet, running water or even soap. Can you believe that more people have a cell phone than have a toilet?

The toilet taboo

Terri at The Wanderer in Zambia has more to tell about the taboo that can discourage Zambians, and not doubt other nationalities as well, from sorting out their sanitation.

In 2013, the UN designated 19th November as World Toilet Day.  This Year’s theme is Toilets and Jobs. Women in particular lack education and employment because much of their time is spent fetching water. It is a goal of the UN to give everyone in the world access to clean water and toilets by 2030.

Now that we have discussed the taboo, (did you see Terri’s hat in the link?) I can state that lack of sanitation often means open defecation. That may not be so much of a challenge for the young and healthy. But consider the fate of older people who find sitting in low chairs, bending or kneeling impossible.

An example of poor sanitation in parts of Zambia

I asked my friend Olden Hamabibi about conditions around Lusaka in Zambia, where he works with older people. Olden is very concerned about the inadequate sanitation in Lusaka.  Ten or more people may use one toilet, which is often nothing more than a hole in the ground.

Zambia’s urban population is rising. One of the major obstacles to providing clean water and sanitation in Lusaka is the rocky ground.  Installation of infrastructure is difficult in these conditions. The taboo about talking toilets is another very real obstacle.

More that 50% of the people living in urban Lusaka collect their water from boreholes. Their use of pit latrines can contaminate the boreholes, spreading disease in the community. Many deaths can be attributed to diarrhoea.

Older people in Zambia often suffer from arthritis. Unfortunately they are not considered when constructing toilets. There is nothing for them to grab on to to support themselves. Often a step will prevent them from being able to use the toilet at all. Clean toilet paper is not available to them.

Many elderly people would have to travel a great distance even to use these toilets. Because it is too far, they use the bushes.

Around the world, these kind of conditions reduce productivity due to illnesses caused by poor hygiene practices. It costs many countries up to 5% of GDP

Diarrhoea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water causes the deaths of 315,000 children every year.

Provision of sanitation creates jobs and improves the health and well-being of communities.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please share to help spread the word and help combat the Toilet Taboo around the world.


Photo Attributions:

Feature Photo: Ask Ideas

Seat Cleaner: By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Toilets Zambia: Olden Hamabibi




  • m.butcher@iinet.net.au

    November 23, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Good to see you Yemisi, thanks for visiting!

  • Oluwayemisi Oluwole

    November 23, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    This is an eye opener for us here in Nigeria on a topic we seldom talking about Thanks for bringing this to life

  • Still the Lucky Few

    November 19, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Maddie, we can always count on an honest, informative post from you! So much good information here, and so many arguments for establishing good sanitation.

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