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World Toilet Day 2022

byYvette Broex
onNovember 19, 2022

By Yvette Broex

In 2021, 3.6 billion people did not have access to good working toilets. This is a consequence of the fact that toilets are underfunded, poorly managed, or neglected, which causes the spread of diarrheal diseases and negatively affects health, economics, and the environment. One consequence is the fact that 1,000 children die daily because of diarrhea. To improve health worldwide and decrease the number of deaths caused by unsanitary conditions, World Toilet Day draws attention to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6: Clean Water and Sanitation, which aims, in part, to ensure safe toilets for all by 2030. The importance of SDG 6 has been underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic, which, according to the UN, clearly demonstrated the importance of sanitation, hygiene, and clean water. Improving these elements prevents and contains disease, which, in turn, saves lives all around the world.

The lack of functioning toilets and sufficient hygienic facilities has been noted to cause problems at schools, including in rural Morocco. The quality of water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in schools, in turn, impacts the accessibility of education and quality of students’ health. The absence or insufficiency of such facilities thus contributes markedly to high dropout rates, especially among girls. According to a 1996 UNICEF report, Moroccan girls are dropping out of school in the rural areas of Morocco as a consequence of bad sanitation and hygiene. The report shed light on the importance of education for women and how separate toilets for boys and girls would lead to better retention rates, especially among girls.

The problem is just as relevant today. According to the “Atlas Territorial School Drop Out” report, 431,876 students dropped out of public schools in Morocco in 2018. There are various reasons for the high dropout numbers of Moroccan girls, such as perceived unsafe school environments, inhibitive distances between home and school, lack of motivation, parents’ lack of interest in girls’ education, or early marriage. However, a main reason for the high number of girls who don’t finish school is related to the issue of health, which is related to poor sanitation. The fact that there are often no enclosed bathrooms for girls forces them to go outside in the open. In the Islamic culture, women’s privacy is particularly important. For this reason, girls’ parents are often worried about their lack of privacy at school and may pull their daughters out of school early. A private bathroom for girls at each school would drastically increase the number of girls staying in school in rural Morocco.

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) supports the building of sanitary infrastructure in rural primary schools in an effort to retain especially female students whenever and wherever feasible. In commemoration of International Toilet Day, we encourage our community of supporters and followers to learn more about this important issue so that we can together take necessary steps toward solving issues — regarding health, education, and other socioeconomic life factors — related to the availability of clean water and sanitation.

Want to help even more? Consider making a gift to HAF’s Bernard Mejean Fund for Girls’ Education, which benefits girls in rural Morocco, including through the building of sanitary facilities in schools.