In West Africa, 75% of the population, i.e. 3 out of 4 people, live without adequate sanitation facilities .
Yeah, I see you coming. You're going to tell me "OK, but what does that mean in practice?".
It's very simple, if you've built your own toilets, chances are you will fit into this percentage. And you know why? Homemade toilets are often of poor quality, are built carelessly without prior design studies and are inadequately maintained.
Similarly, if your toilets were built in the middle of the house without regard for the privacy of everyone, if they are broken, not in proper working order or are rundown, you are also included in this percentage.
In addition, if there is an elderly person, a person with a disability or a pregnant woman in your household who cannot use your toilet because it is not suitable for them, you are also included in this percentage.
If you don't have a toilet at all at home, then of course you are at the top of the list for this percentage!
The issue of toilets is so serious that the UN has declared November 19 as World Toilet Day every year. The UN is thus seeking to draw attention to this issue and bring about a change in behavior with the objective of ensuring that the world's entire population is equipped with adequate toilets by 2030... Might as well say there is work to be done!!!
Beyond the public health issues that are of concern to all of us, toilet failures affect us women first and foremost. I am not suggesting that we should open a feminist forum here. These are proven facts.
In schools, the lack of maintained and separate sanitary facilities that ensure safety and privacy has a negative impact on children's school attendance and learning capacities.
In other words, if schools are not equipped with adequate sanitation facilities, girls' attendance is lower.
When toilet facilities are not suited to women's needs, especially with respect to managing their intimate hygiene during menstruation, absenteeism follows because female students then prefer to stay at home.
Unfortunately, sanitation is largely a male-dominated sector. Men, who are more inclined to think about male needs and who often due to omission or a lack of knowledge, neglect women's needs.
Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?
Do not just stand there! Start by opening your eyes. To begin with, open your eyes and make sure your toilets are clean and in good working order.
Then, make sure that all your close relatives are comfortable with your toilets in terms of safety and privacy.
 WHO & UNICEF, 2019, Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP): Progress on drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene