The panel discussion was in recognition of the 2nd World Toilet Day, which is a day marked to bring awareness to approximately ⅓ of the people around the world who do not have access to a toilet, despite the human right to water and sanitation. This event mainly focused on open defecation and the challenges of women and children in developing countries.
The UN- Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS) 2014 Report theme is increasing access to sanitation while reducing inequalities worldwide. The Chair of UN-Water stated that he is proud of the comprehensive data released in each GLAAS report, and that agencies must come together to ensure progress and environmental sustainability. From 1990 to 2012, 2.3 billion people gained access to improved drinking water. Within the same time period, the number of children deaths related to diarrhoeal diseases fell from 1.5 million deaths to about 600,000 deaths. There is a strong correlation between water quality, sanitation, and diarrhoeal disease.
According to the Deputy Secretary General, about 2.5 billion people around the world have no access to improved sanitation. Just 18 months ago, community efforts were started to eliminate open defecation by 2025. Ending open defecation would lead to a 30%-40% reduction of deaths due to diarrhea. The statement, “toilets bring dignity and equality” was brought up multiple times throughout the event.
A representative from UN Women discussed the importance of sanitation and toilets. Women before and after giving birth are at high risks of infection and infecting their children due to lack of sanitation. Something as simple as having access to soap and water to wash one’s hands can prevent the spread of disease. Overall, many representatives agreed that good health is the basis of human life and investments should be made to improve social lives and dignity.
Meeting Topic: Panel discussion on the occasion of the World Toilet Day (in accordance with General Assembly resolution 67/291, entitled “Sanitation for All”) (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Singapore and UN-Water)
Date/Location: Wednesday, November 19, 2014; 1:15 pm- 3:00 pm; Trusteeship Council Chamber
Speakers: Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, Singapore Ambassador Karen Tan, Chair of UN Water Michel Jarraud, World Health Organization (WHO) representative from New York Jeni Oppenheimer, Unilever Representative Dr. Analia Mendez, UN Women, Dr. Jean Chamberlain video feed from Save the Mothers, Senior Responder to Cholera in Haiti, Representative from UNICEF, Representatives of India, Rwanda, Samoa, Vietnam, Suriname, Nepal, and Granada
Written by WIT Representatives: Paige Stokols and Alis Yoo
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon