MEPs marked World Toilet Day with a call for the EU to do more to improve sanitation and access to water worldwide.
The European Toilet Declaration was signed by parliamentarians, NGOs and major firms, urging the 28-member bloc to adopt a common position on one of the UN’s key sustainable development goals.
“So often in developing countries young girls won’t go to school because they can’t go to the toilet in private,” said British Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder.
“we know from reports in India there are most at risk from rape, from abuse, from murder when they are seeking a private place to go to the toilet.”
Campaigners want EU member states to support universal access to basic drinking water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030.
But the issue remains a taboo subject.
“It’s the thing people don’t talk about, sanitation, toilets, removal of human waste behaviour change and unless people start talking about that and invest in it, extreme poverty is not going to be eradicated,” said Water Aid chief executive Barbara Frost.
“There are 2,5 billion people without toilets and that means 1 in every 3 people.”
Improving access to water and sanitation is one of the UN’s seventeen sustainable development goals, based upon an international agreement struck in Rio two years ago.