When human waste is not safely disposed of, water supplies, food and people’s hands become contaminated with the pathogens contained in excreta, which can transmit cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other potentially fatal diseases. Every day 2,000 children die from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. Millions more adults and children are too sick to work or attend school.
Unsafe sanitation leads to diseases that keep children out of school. Many adolescent girls also frequently miss school, or drop out altogether, because of a lack of private toilets. Sabina from Nepal told us: "Before the school had latrines we used to go to the bush – we used to hide under the bamboo. During menstruation it was really difficult, so we used to go absent and stay at home instead."
One in three women worldwide risk shame, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. Sandimhia Renato from northern Mozambique, pictured above, has no access to a toilet. She walks 15 minutes every day to defecate in the bush, having to cross a dangerous bridge where she knows women are attacked at night.