#WorldToiletDay: School Pupils in Berlin Demand Safe Sanitation for Everyone Worldwide

the toilet exhibition tent in Berlin (©Wöhlert)

Dressed in suits, Berlin school students publicly demonstrated on the occasion of World Toilet Day 2019. They invited passers-by to a “toilet exhibition tent” at Potsdamer Platz in the heart of Germany’s capital. Inside the tent, a self-built, “inadequate” toilet demonstrated the poor sanitary conditions, which are reality in many parts of the world. Bottles of dirty water were handed out and a toilet-cake was on offer. The message: Toilets can save lives!

The students are highlighting the fact that the global community can only achieve their self-imposed development goals, if they show solidarity with those, who are most affected by the sanitation crisis: the elderly, sick, refugees, children, otherwise marginalised groups and all those affected by disasters who are most affected by the world’s sanitation crisis.

Toilets are an elementary part of human dignity and since 2010 also a human right. It is a scandal that many politicians do not know this and that the states do not act sufficiently, a spokesman for the students explained. The states would only achieve their self-imposed United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in the area of sanitation if politics finally got the taboo subject out of the dirty corner. Goal 6 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals calls for safe toilets, clean drinking water and access to hygiene for all people by 2030.

“If governments and even donor countries like Germany do not start to focus their efforts on those people who are most difficult to reach, we will crash and miss this target,” explains Johannes Rück, spokesman for the German Toilet Organization (GTO). There are still 673 million people without toilets, including the poor, the elderly and the sick, residents of slums, refugees, indigenous people and those affected by disasters. World Bank figures prove that the aid is not reaching these people today: only 6% of the subsidies that flow into water and sanitation in developing countries benefit the poorest 20% of the population.

“Where would you hide?” ©Wöhlert

According to the WHO, access to water, sanitation and hygiene can save the lives of 297,000 children under the age of 5 every year. Washing hands also reduces the risk of diarrhoea by 30 percent. Although the proportion of people with access to safely managed sanitation has risen from 28 to 45 percent in the last 10 years, 673 million people are still defecating in the open – an inhumane situation with serious consequences for public health and the environment. WHO studies further show that increasing investment in access to improved toilets results in low health costs, higher productivity and fewer premature deaths.

The event was part of the development education project “Toiletised World” of the GTO. Within the project, GTO organises one-day workshops at schools and jointly plans events to raise public awareness for development-policy issues with the school children.

Young Pupils Demand Clean Drinking Water for All Worldwide

Berlin, March 2019: Young pupils in Berlin demand clean drinking water for all worldwide

According to UNESCO (World Water Report, 2019), 2.1 billion people worldwide have no access to safe drinking water. Berlin school children demonstrated against the global water crisis on the occasion of World Water Day 2019.

Lugging water-filled jerry-cans and presenting self-made hand washing facilities, the pupils demanded “Water for everyone”. Their message was loud and clear: Everyone has a right to access clean and safe drinking water. Poor and marginalised population groups in particular should not be left out. They are the ones suffering most from the global water crisis: people with disabilities, the elderly, indigenous people, but also girls and women, who in many societies are responsible for providing their families with water and travel great distances every day to do so.

At the end of their protest march, the pupils handed over an oversized postcard with their messages to Thilo Panzerbieter, Executive Director of the German Toilet Organization. He presented the students’ demands at a “water stakeholder meeting” in the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) later the same day.

The draft federal budget for 2020 is a disappointment when it comes to investments in development cooperation. These budgetary set-backs will make it impossible to meet international commitments and will inhibit the contributions to the implementation of human rights. On their way to Potsdamer Platz, the pupils therefore stopped in front of the Federal Ministry of Finance to demonstrate for more investment into development cooperation. In times of increasing conflict – also over the increasingly scarce resource of water – BMZ is still regarded as one of the largest donors in the field of water. Precisely these funds are therefore essential for reaching marginalised groups in the fight against poverty and to eliminate major inequalities in the access to water.

The importance of safe drinking water is illustrated by the following figures: over 50 countries are affected by water stress. Causes include climate change, population growth and the drop in groundwater levels caused by prolonged droughts. The United Nations (UN) estimate that water consumption has increased 6-fold in recent years and that available water resources will become increasingly scarce in the future. This has dramatic consequences: People suffer from hunger, agricultural production becomes increasingly difficult and the fight for water leads to armed conflicts. The World Economic Forum considers the global water crisis to be one of the five greatest risk factors for mankind.

one of the signs that provides information on the use of virtual water

The march was initiated by pupils from the Grüner Campus Malchow, the Gemeinschaftsschule on Campus Rütli and the Käthe-Kollwitz-Gymnasium together with GTO. The project is financially supported by the BMZ, by the state office for developmental cooperation of Berlin and by Brot für die Welt. We also thank CWS-boco, who is a long-term supporter of GTO projects.

The event is part of GTO’s development education project “Toiletised World” – initiated in 2009. Within the project, GTO organises one-day workshops at schools and jointly plans events to raise public awareness for development-policy issues with the school children.

(via Germantoilet.org)

We put the men in menstruation… (DE)

Frauen, die Männer dafür verantwortlich machen, dass das schöne Thema „Menstruation” nicht den gleichen Stellenwert erreicht hat, wie andere Themen, die viel selbstverständlicher und öffentlicher diskutiert werden.

Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated on May 28th around the world.

Das ist es im Grunde, was mich als Mann und Aktivist im Bereich des Menstrual Hygiene Mangements in der Diskussion immer so stört. Dass Frauen gerne über ihre Menstruation und verschiedene Hygieneprodukte reden möchten (oder auch nicht), dann aber Schwierigkeiten damit haben, wenn Männer davon erfahren und/oder sich auch zu dem Thema äußern (auch wenn sie keine Ahnung haben). Oder die Frauen die Männer gar für die Gesamtsituation verantwortlich machen. Oder aber in den sozialen Medien Bilder ihrer Menstruationstassen veröffentlichen (yay!) und dann alle Männer regelmäßig in einen Sack stecken, weil sich ein paar unreife Exemplare meines Geschlechts darüber aufregen. Continue reading “We put the men in menstruation… (DE)”

Toilet flash mob in Berlin on International Women’s Day

students in front of a toilet in Berlin during  International Women's Day
Toilet flash mob in Berlin, via German Toilet Organization

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Berlin pupils and the German Toilet Organization (GTO) staged an unexpected scene at the Washington Square in front of Berlin Central Station. In the focus of the flash mob were two toilet stalls, one for women, one for men. With a disproportionately long queue in front of the ladies – a well-known image – the pupils called attention to the lack of equality between the sexes in front of the loo.

According to the World Health Organization, one in three women worldwide have no access to safe and clean sanitation. In poor neighborhoods of urban areas the only existing public toilets are rarely gender-separated. More than 500 million women and girls therefore do their business outdoors. Many go only at night, in order to protect their privacy. This is not only unhealthy, but also makes them prone to harassment and sexual assaults.

“Good sanitation is not only a key to development, but also to equal rights for women and girls,” says Thilo Panzerbieter, Executive Director of GTO. Especially in the field of education, access to an adequate school toilet plays a crucial role in school attendances. “About half of all girls in least developed countries attend schools with none or only very inadequate sanitation,” adds Panzerbieter. The lack of privacy and poor hygiene conditions lead to school dropouts as soon as the girls reach puberty. These problems can be greatly reduced by improving sanitation in schools. According to a study by UNICEF in Bangladesh improved school toilets led to an increase of 11% in girl attendances.

Every bum has the right to a loo

Every bum has the right to a loo
“Every bum has the right to a loo” – pupils from Berlin and Potsdam demonstrated for the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in front of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on December 10th, 2014.

Although the United Nations have officially announced the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in 2010, still 2,5 billion people worldwide do not have access to adequate Sanitation facilities (WHO/UNICEF). Regarding the Human Rights Day on the 10th of December, pupils from Berlin and Potsdam demonstrated together with the German Toilet Organization and called for worldwide solidarity, as everybody has the right to a toilet, no matter where from, or any cultural background.

After a press conference at the German Institute of Human Rights, the pupils marched through the streets of Berlin, passing checkpoint Charlie, to the Brandenburg Gate.

[via GTO]