Our new report reveals the state of the world’s toilets

This World Toilet Day, we’re sharing our first ‘It’s No Joke: The State of the World’s Toilets’ report, which ranks some of the world’s worst places to go to the toilet, and calls on national governments to show their commitment to delivering universal access to sanitation by 2030.

19 Nov 2015

More than 2.3 billion people still don’t have access to a safe, private toilet, and open defecation is the norm for nearly one billion, causing polluted environments and the spread of disease.

Our first annual It’s no joke: The State of the World’s Toilets report tracks the progress of nations as we work towards Global Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

The fewest toilets and the longest queues

Our report reveals that the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, is the worst place in the world to find a toilet, closely followed by Niger, Togo and Madagascar.

22 years of civil war and persistent power struggles since independence in 2011 have contributed to 93% of South Sudan’s population still being without access to sanitation.

In other countries, challenges to ensuring access to safe, private toilets include difficult terrain and remote locations, nomadic populations, informal settlements, cultural preferences for defecating outdoors – and most importantly, a lack of political will and financing to make sanitation a priority.

And with a population of over a billion, India is home to the highest number of people waiting for sanitation (774 million), as well as the most people per square kilometre practising open defecation (173).

Women line up outside a community toilet, April 2014
Women line up outside a restored community toilet, Kanpur, India.

Our report also finds that many developed countries don't have universal access, including Canada, the UK, Ireland and Sweden. Russia has the lowest percentage of household toilets of all developed nations.

What next?

Access to adequate toilets, and increasing awareness of the importance of using them, are crucial if we are to eliminate undernutrition linked to chronic diarrhoeal illnesses and the ill health and shame which comes with not having a safe, private toilet.

WaterAid’s Senior Policy Analyst on Sanitation, Andrés Hueso, said:

“In many cases, nations that need to make great strides on sanitation are falling behind, with devastating consequences for health, education and women’s safety. We need leaders worldwide to state publicly that sanitation is crucial and to prioritise and fund it accordingly. And it’s not enough to just deliver toilets.”

Therefore, we are calling for:

  • Political prioritisation and long-­term increases in financing for water, sanitation and hygiene, by both national governments and donor countries like the UK. 
  • National governments to ensure that schools, healthcare facilities and birthing centres have safe toilets, clean running water and functional sinks and soap for handwashing.
  • National governments to include water, sanitation and hygiene in plans to address undernutrition and acute malnutrition. 
  • Aid to be directed to where it’s needed most – many of the world’s poorest countries which are most in need of aid for sanitation and hygiene are receiving the least, because they don’t meet donors’ strategic priorities.

Read the full report >

About World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day was first declared by the UN in 2013 to highlight that one in three of the world’s population does not have access to a decent toilet – a statistic which has changed little since then.

Every year the UN calls on the global community to do more to address the sanitation crisis worldwide. The theme of this year’s World Toilet Day is ‘Sanitation and nutrition’.

Read our latest blog about ending malnutrition with toilets >

See our favourite moments from the World Toilet Day celebrations around the globe >