It is a day of joyous celebrations, ladies and gentlemen ! Today is the auspicious 19th November and it has been decreed ‘World Toilet Day’ by none other than the United Nations General Assembly. Pretty serious stuff, if we put aside the giggles for a while.
Are you aware that 1 billion people worldwide practise open defecation and another whooping 2.5 billion do not have access to proper sanitation facilities ? According to Dr Chris Williams, Executive Director of the Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), the implications are multiple as without adequate sanitation facilities and hygiene, health, social and economic development would be hindered in the world. Therefore, toilets are a must and should be considered an issue of burning priority.
But typical of human species, matters related to the emptying of bowels also remain taboo. Simply imagine waking up one fine morning and having to do without a toilet. What will you do ? Where will you go ? How will you manage ? Those living in the countryside (mountains, rivers, forests) will have a slight advantage but the scenario would be greatly catastrophic in general. Panic on board, for sure ! So, you see how important toilets are ?
Unfortunately, in Mauritius, there is a lack of consideration for toilets, in particular, public toilets and those that we have are the last resource, I mean it, last resource, for anyone who has got a pressing call of nature. These toilets are quite filthy, have wet surfaces, are smelly and rarely have running water. It is even worse in the case of Asian-style toilets, where you have to contort your body and squat, taking care not to get your backside or clothes wet in the process ! To some extent, the fault lies with the authorities and cleaning companies. Yes, there is no liquid soap, no running water to neither flush the cistern nor wash our hands and the surfaces are in squalid conditions. And you wonder how infections are spread on a daily basis…
However, members of the public are also to be blamed as some of them have absolutely no consideration for the rest of their fellow countrymen/women who are forced to resort to public loos, in cases of absolute necessity ! As we say, they are only concerned with relieving themselves, not bothering to flush, without any thought towards other poor souls, who are caught unaware on a daily basis. It is a situation where everyone is concerned with his/her backside and nothing else ! However, I wish to underline that ladies are at a disadvantage due to their feminine needs and either have to hold it in or bravely bear with it while men can always nip behind the safety of a bush or tree to do their business ! So, a great deal needs to be done to inculcate our fellow Mauritians about their responsibility when using public loos. Or, start making all public loos payable ! I have read that this will soon be reality in our towns. As we speak, there are many companies which operate these ‘Pay-as- you- use loos’ and the service is indeed unequalled. Mauritians will only learn a lesson when it hits them hard, in their pockets !
Having said that, please spare a thought for most students of this blessed country, who have been complaining about smelly and dirty toilets in their institutions for generations now. May their prayers be heard soon !
So, toilets are quintessential. Many people might not think highly of them, use them whenever they want, abuse them and are quick to leave them selfishly and forget about them but the humble toilet IS simply one of the wonderful things in life which we cannot do without. Let us learn to respect and appreciate the importance of toilets in our lives. Therefore, dear people, I wish you all a blissful World Toilet Day !