Senator Cynthia Villar has been joining the celebration of World Toilet Day every Nov. 19, citing the importance of sanitation in people’s lives and the economy.
“We should be clean at all times to maintain good health. A dirty environment poses dangers to our health because it causes many diseases,” said Villar, head of the Senate committee on the environment.
“We all know the health hazards, among others, that poor sanitation and lack of toilet facilities bring to an individual, families and entire communities, especially now that we are facing a health crisis due to COVID-19,” Villar said.
Quoting data from the World Health Organization, Villar said “For every one dollar invested in basic sanitation in urban areas, an average of $2.5 is returned in saved medical costs and increased productivity. In rural areas, an average of $5 is returned for every $1 invested. Loss of productivity and sanitation-related diseases cost many countries up to 5 percent of GDP.”
In supporting proper sanitation, Villar has embarked on the construction of toilets and septic tanks especially in Metro Manila.
She is also at the forefront of a toilet bowl distribution project in Baseco in Tondo, one of the poorest communities in Metro Manila.
She has given almost 500 toilets in Baseco, but which is still far from the needs of residents. Almost half of the 10,000 households in Baseco do not have toilets.
Aside from the health dangers open defecation poses to residents, it also further pollutes Manila Bay, which has undergone rehabilitation.
She cites the need to preserve Manila Bay and its biodiversity since many are depending on the bay for their livelihoods.
She says the government needs to get rid of open defecation, the main goal of the United Nations General Assembly in declaring Nov. 19 as World Toilet Day.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Toilet For Every Juan.”
In the Philippines, she says, there are still millions of Filipinos who do not have access to a toilet.
“Open defecation is still being practiced around the country especially in the rural or far-flung areas. They do not have the proper toilet facilities.
“And this is happening not only in the provinces. We have also many people in Metro Manila who are defecating in open spaces and bodies of water. And the human waste, the excrement,they go to our river, to our seas; they go to Manila Bay.”
“To ensure that the water in our rivers and seas are clean, we have to stop the practice of open defecation,” Villar said.
She says every local government unit should boost their initiatives in maintaining a safe and clean environment and in eliminating open defecation.