Around the World in Twenty-Five Toilets
Poverty

Around the World in Twenty-Five Toilets

A look at toilets and sanitation for World Toilet Day

A toilet stands in a field on private property in the town of Yuzhno-Kurilsk on Kunashir Island which is part of the Kuril Islands group in Russia, September 16, 2015.
A toilet stands in a field on private property in the town of Yuzhno-Kurilsk on Kunashir Island which is part of the Kuril Islands group in Russia, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Each year on November 19, the world celebrates one of "the most pivotal inventions in human history"—the toilet. 

Taken for granted, toilets save countless lives each year and during the last two centuries, have been credited for adding twenty years to the human lifespan. However, not everyone has access to one. In 2020, almost half of the world’s population—3.6 billion people—lacked safely managed sanitation, according to the World Health Organization. For 3 in 10 people worldwide, soap and water wasn't available for handwashing at home. And almost 300,000 children under age five die annually from diarrheal diseases caused by lack of access to proper sanitation. 

To raise awareness of the importance of toilets and suitable sanitation, the United Nations established World Toilet Day in 2013, and two years later, it pledged toilet access for everyone by 2030 under the Sustainable Development Goals. To celebrate this year's World Toilet Day, we compiled a slideshow of toilets around the world. 

Roman latrine
A hut
A driver uses the last surviving vespasienne (public urinals) on the boulevard Arago in
Public squatting toilets are seen in Beijing China
Posters, including those advertising treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, are stuck to the walls of a public toilet in a residential area for migrant workers in Shigezhuang village, Beijing, China, October 13, 2015.
s a toilet block in Kenya, submerged after the water levels at Lake Naivasha bulged to record high. 
A toilet floats on the river Nun near Yenagoa, Bayelsa state in Nigeria's delta region October 8, 2015.
A migrant woman walks past a row of portable toilets at a makeshift border camp along the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas
Visitors try out the transparent public toilets that become opaque when occupied, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, at Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park in Tokyo, Japan August 26, 2020.
A toilet is seen in Taba Protectorate Area at the new road to Saint Catherine, in the Sinai Peninsula, south of Cairo, Egypt, on December 12, 2018
A public toilet stands surrounded by snow near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, March 18, 2011.
A public toilet constructed of rusty sheets of metal stands in Gatwekera Village in the Kibera slum, in Nairobi, Kenya, on October 12, 2015. 
Newspapers are seen on a toilet seat next to a traditional squat toilet in a private home in Mandalay, Myanmar, October 5, 2015.
A woman waits in front of a toilet in front of the Sphinx at the Giza Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, on November 8, 2015.
An open toilet is seen in a field in Gorba in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh, India, on November 16, 2015. 
A public toilet with a sculpture of a young boy and girl is seen in Tbilisi, Georgia, on September 18, 2015.
women's restroom is a glass cubicle with a fully functioning toilet that stands in a garden,
Urinals are filled with volcanic ash in a closed park in Tagaytay City, Philippines, January 14, 2020.
A makeshift shower cabin and toilet are seen atop a deserted hotel, where hundreds of migrants found temporary shelter on the Greek island of Kos, Greece, May 27, 2015.
A toilet stands outside the Llamocca family home at Villa Lourdes in Villa Maria del Triunfo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, October 7, 2015. There is no running water in Villa Lourdes and families buy it from water tankers once a week.
An outdoor toilet is seen with a sign that reads, "Pissing prohibited," in the Marcory district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on October 13, 2015. 
An outdoor toilet looks out over the ice at the Swiss Camp research center on the Greenland ice pack, near Ilulissat, Greenland, on May 18, 2007.
After a period of intense flooding, a man uses a floating public toilet on the Ciliwung river bank in Jakarta, Indonesia, on December 28, 2006. 
 gold plated toilet and bidet
A bathroom attendant emerges from a beetle-shaped toilet at a park in Beijing, China, on November 17, 2004. 
Close
Roman latrine A hut A driver uses the last surviving vespasienne (public urinals) on the boulevard Arago in Public squatting toilets are seen in Beijing China Posters, including those advertising treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, are stuck to the walls of a public toilet in a residential area for migrant workers in Shigezhuang village, Beijing, China, October 13, 2015. s a toilet block in Kenya, submerged after the water levels at Lake Naivasha bulged to record high.  A toilet floats on the river Nun near Yenagoa, Bayelsa state in Nigeria's delta region October 8, 2015. A migrant woman walks past a row of portable toilets at a makeshift border camp along the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas Visitors try out the transparent public toilets that become opaque when occupied, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, at Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park in Tokyo, Japan August 26, 2020. A toilet is seen in Taba Protectorate Area at the new road to Saint Catherine, in the Sinai Peninsula, south of Cairo, Egypt, on December 12, 2018 A public toilet stands surrounded by snow near the 2011 Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, March 18, 2011. A public toilet constructed of rusty sheets of metal stands in Gatwekera Village in the Kibera slum, in Nairobi, Kenya, on October 12, 2015.  Newspapers are seen on a toilet seat next to a traditional squat toilet in a private home in Mandalay, Myanmar, October 5, 2015. A woman waits in front of a toilet in front of the Sphinx at the Giza Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, on November 8, 2015. An open toilet is seen in a field in Gorba in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh, India, on November 16, 2015.  A public toilet with a sculpture of a young boy and girl is seen in Tbilisi, Georgia, on September 18, 2015. women's restroom is a glass cubicle with a fully functioning toilet that stands in a garden, Urinals are filled with volcanic ash in a closed park in Tagaytay City, Philippines, January 14, 2020. A makeshift shower cabin and toilet are seen atop a deserted hotel, where hundreds of migrants found temporary shelter on the Greek island of Kos, Greece, May 27, 2015. A toilet stands outside the Llamocca family home at Villa Lourdes in Villa Maria del Triunfo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, October 7, 2015. There is no running water in Villa Lourdes and families buy it from water tankers once a week. An outdoor toilet is seen with a sign that reads, "Pissing prohibited," in the Marcory district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on October 13, 2015.  An outdoor toilet looks out over the ice at the Swiss Camp research center on the Greenland ice pack, near Ilulissat, Greenland, on May 18, 2007. After a period of intense flooding, a man uses a floating public toilet on the Ciliwung river bank in Jakarta, Indonesia, on December 28, 2006.   gold plated toilet and bidet A bathroom attendant emerges from a beetle-shaped toilet at a park in Beijing, China, on November 17, 2004. 
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Caroline Kantis is a staff editor for Think Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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