Why more than half of the world’s population can’t access a safe and hygienic toilet

Did you know that 4.2 billion people around the world are currently living without access to a safe and hygienic toilet?

According to the United Nations, the total world population is currently sitting at 7.8 billion, this means that 53% of the total population are without access to safely managed sanitation. It’s also worth noting that 40% of the population also don’t have access to basic handwashing facilities including soap and clean water at home.

If you find this information alarming, you’re not alone. These statistics largely come from third world countries where densely populated areas have limited access to resources and infrastructure.

Solving this sanitation issue requires innovative technologies and systems which are practical, cost-effective, and replicable on a large-scale. Key limitations are that toilets cannot run without adequate water supply, there are also challenges with sewerage treatment to consider. Even though a hygienic toilet should be available to everyone no matter where they live, it’s proved a challenging task for governments, charities and engineers for many years.


Image Source: UNICEF

Sanitation facilities are essential to public health

A key health concern for communities without adequate and sustainable sanitation facilities is the prevention and treatment of deadly infections such as COVID-19, Cholera and Typhoid. Even though a large portion of affected communities are in third world countries, all sanitation facilities are heavily reliant on adequate water supply.

Some parts of Australia suffer droughts year-round which limits their water supply. The Australian government effectively manages emergency water supply to prevent shortages which would see our sanitation facilities affected.

Image Source: United Nations ‘World Toilet Day’

World Toilet Day: Sustainable Sanitation

As part of their 2020 World Toilet Day campaign, the United Nations have indicated a need for more sustainable and eco-friendly sanitation solutions. The United Nations defines sustainable sanitation as a hygienic toilet that “captures human waste in a safe, accessible, and dignified setting’.

This year the United Nations are encouraging governments to allocate resources into the research and development of eco-friendly sanitation solutions. These facilities reuse waste to safely boost agriculture and reduce emissions for greener energy.

You can read more about the campaign and World Toilet Day here.

Image Source: United Nations ‘World Toilet Day’

What can you do about it?

Given that in Australia we have access to suitable water to run our facilities, a costly overhaul of all facilities to reuse waste is not required. However, there are some cost-effective modifications that will reduce running costs whilst limiting environmental impacts.

Fitting solar panels onto your toilet building
This involves a minor investment and can be installed on new and existing buildings saving on running costs for the facility. This small cost addition will result in long-term savings and would be best suited to buildings located in areas with ample sunlight.

Fitting sanitation station
This is also a minor investment and will reduce the facilities water usage, having this station installed outside the building will prevent the spread of germs when users exit the facility.

Installing LED lights
On average LED lights use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lights reducing energy consumption and reducing running costs.

Installing motion censored lights
Having motion censored lights will ensure that energy resources are not being used whilst the facility is empty. At a small investment, this feature will reduce energy usage and costs in the long-term, particularly during low-peak periods.

Want some more tips on how you can make your facility more energy efficient? Reach out to us, here we’re full of ideas!



United Nations 2020, World Toilet Day 19 November, United Nations, retrieved 18 November <https://www.un.org/en/observances/toilet-day>.

United Nations 2020, Peace dignity and equality on a healthy planet, United Nations, retrieved 18 November, <https://www.un.org/en/>.

World ‘O Meter 2020, Current World Population, World ‘O Meter, Retrieved 18 November https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/#:~:text=7.8%20Billion%20(2020),currently%20living)%20of%20the%20world>.