In November, the World Council of Churches (WCC) commemorated World Toilet Day with reflections about the human right to a dignified sanitation. In a morning prayer led by the WCC Ecumenical Water Network (EWN), those gathered drew attention to the global sanitation challenge.
The World Council of Churches is an ecumenical partner supported by the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment, which enables United Methodists to share a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations.
Two-thirds of the world's population does not have access to a safely managed toilet, and 892 million people still practise open defecation. World Toilet Day has become a platform to demand action from governments and to reach out to wider audiences. The theme for this year's World Toilet Day is "When Nature Calls."
EWN coordinator Dinesh Suna offered a reflection that touched on his home country of India, which, he said, is often called the "world's largest open air toilet".
India is investing over 20 billion dollars in trying to be an "open defecation free" country by 2019 – 11 years ahead of the deadline of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 6 target on universal sanitation.
"India has built millions of new toilets, and many of them have become dysfunctional due to lack of running water," Suna explained. "Some of them are used by the communities to store food grains and other valuables, as those toilets are the only concrete structure in the poor households and the fact that Indian culture does not promote people relieving themselves in their own houses, which are sacred."
Sanitation is not only about construction of toilets but it must be looked at with a comprehensive approach, Suna continued.
"When thousands of children are dying everyday due to lack of adequate sanitation facilities, we can no longer shy away from talking about toilets," he said. "When lack of sanitation robs people of their dignity, particularly women and girl children, it needs our serious attention."
World Council of Churches website
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund enables United Methodists to share a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment at 100 percent.