The We Are Water Foundation alerts that there are 946 million people that defecate in the open


November 18, 2015


  • The lack of access to suitable sanitation costs the poorest countries nearly 260 billion dollars
  • The availability of a safe bathroom reduces the number of assaults against women
  • Suitable sanitation in schools would reduce absenteeism of female teenagers and girls by up to 15%


The World Toilet Day is celebrated on the 19th November. In order to raise awareness of the lack of access to basic sanitation in many parts of the world, the We Are Water Foundation carries out various activities on an international level in order to provide visibility to this problem. This is a unique opportunity to tackle the global challenge of providing healthy, clean, accessible and affordable sanitation.

The lack of access to suitable sanitation costs the poorest countries nearly 260 billion dollars. In the 21st century there are still 2,400 million people that do not have access to basic sanitation. Nowadays, 946 million people are forced to defecate in the open air, a figure that is nearly as high as the total population of the African continent (1,100 million), a number that strikes even more when we find out that there are more people worldwide with access to a mobile phone than with access to a toilet.  

This problem has an extreme impact on global health. A total of 842,000 deaths could be avoided every year if there were suitable sanitation and hygiene structures for everyone. 1,000 children under the age of 5 die every day around the world due to diarrhoeal diseases, a consequence of the lack of basic sanitation and access to drinking water.

The group that is particularly affected is the one including women and girls, both in education and in safety. The lack of suitable sanitation services is the main cause of school dropouts among girls in developing countries, especially after reaching puberty, when menstruation makes things even more complicated. School dropouts among teenagers would be reduced by even 15% if they had access to sanitation services in schools, while the number of rapes and sexual assaults against women would be reduced if they had a latrine in their school, home or near them.  

The We Are Water Foundation, aware of the situation suffered by millions of people around the world, commemorates this day with different events that will take place at the Roca Galleries in Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona and London, as well as in other countries where it is present. These events will be round tables where topics such as sanitation problems in cities, architecture and sanitation in India or problems related to access to water, among others, will be discussed. For this reason, there will be professionals from the sector and prominent celebrities that will express their point of view and their own perspective on this issue.


About the We Are Water Foundation

The We Are Water Foundation has two key goals in mind. The first is to promote awareness and encourage debate among the public and organisations on the need to create a new culture for water, to enable the equitable development and sustainable management of the world’s water resources. The second is to carry out a whole host of actions to counter the negative effects of the lack of adequate water resources. The foundation’s fields of activity include involvement in infrastructure, education, health and research, concentrated in the world’s most deprived areas.