by Christiaan Morssink

a crappy photo of a crappy toilet

I have seen it too often, in too many places. Toilets in disrepair. Toilets that were installed to improve the hygiene of the household, the village, the school, the railway station. Paid for by the customer, or financed by a bank, sometimes donated, but the installer, the plumber, the bank, the station manager, the principal, the homeowner, etc., are left with a piece of hardware that needs to be maintained, repaired, and cleaned.

The toilet up top was installed in 1980 at a cost of less than US$40.00. Since then much more has been spent on cleaning, on repairs of valves, equipment and chemicals to unplug and clean out, to install sinks and buy soap and towels, to obtain trashcans with lids, in which non-flushable items can deposited. And those who clean, wipe, unplug, drain, mop, etc. they better know what chemicals they are working with.

a well-maintained toilet

Have asthma? Better stay away from that blue stuff that fumes when you pour it. Know what to use, how much to use, when to use, and know where to get it at reasonable prices. Indeed, with the installation of a toilet comes a whole lot more that requires attention, skill, money, overcoming a sense of taboo and denigration, and so much more. Cleaning a toilet or latrine should not be punishment; it is a moment to underscore the value of “the throne. ”

World Toilet Day 2020. Let’s install more and do so more equitably, but understand that the real work just starts after installation. 

Christiaan (with two a’s) volunteers as the president of the Global Water Alliance. A public health policy professional with Dutch roots and strong traveling habits, he has become a water worrier of sorts, not only because good water is needed everywhere for the public’s health but also to assure good quality local brews. And coffee, and tea, of course.