At first glance, World Toilet Day sounds like something pushed out by a group of silly children. However, World Toilet Day's significance is detrimentally important. World Toilet Day aims to educate everyone about the 2.4 billion people across the world who do not have access to a safe and private toilet, which means that 1 in 3 people around the world suffer from a lack of safe sanitation. 1 billion people are left to defecate in the open, leading to 1000 children dying per day from diarrheal diseases. Many children do not make it to their fifth birthday as a result of this. Young girls, who venture into the open to defecate, also face unthinkable crimes involving rape and abduction.
World Toilet Day's role in spreading awareness of the severity of this issue is thereby profoundly important. This year, United Nations Water has designated 19th November as World Toilet Day. To raise awareness of this day, a London-based artist, Catherine Fenton will be opening an art exhibition. Entitled 'Don't Forget to Flush', the art gallery aims to visually capture the significance of World Toilet Day.
Catherine said, "Art has always been keen to push boundaries and deal with the taboo, - and toilets are usually a taboo subject - so we are hoping artists will use their artistic freedom to express their own interpretation of this issue - whatever 'Don't Forget to Flush' means to them. We hope artists will think of creative, funny and original ways to explore the subject."
Culturally, toilet art has always been controversial. Marcel Duchamp shocked the artistic world in 1917 by exhibiting a urinal and signing it. In a similar vein, Sarah Lucas exhibited plaster cast toilets in her work at the British Pavilion of the Venice Biennale. 'Don't Forget to Flush' aims to recapture the shocking nature of toilet art to reflect the shocking nature of the global sanitation issue. The exhibition will be hosted by Nude Tin Can Gallery from 10th November to 21st November and will run as part of SuStAinable StAblans Week. The exhibition will also raise money for Toilet Twinning to build toilets in the developing world.
WaterAid addresses the issue of poor sanitation in the developing world by delivering taps and toilets, whilst working with local partners to reach those suffering the most. WaterAid works with local governments to develop national strategies to provide sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene systems. Last year, the organisation used 'Sanitation Superheroes' and built giant toilets across the world to educate people about the issue. The organisation claims to have helped over 3.1 million people last year to gain access to safe toilets.
The UN's Global Goals aims to eradicate this global sanitation problem by ensuring the availability of water sanitation for everyone everywhere by 2030, but this can only be done by worldwide awareness. This year, make sure you spread the word about World Toilet Day. If you're an artist, the deadline for submissions for 'Don't Forget To Flush' is November 7th. Other artists' work can be seen at http://nudetincan.com. If you're not an artist, visit the exhibition this month and bring your friends and family to educate them about the importance of World Toilet Day!
Images: Courtesy of Catherine Fenton