Toilet Poverty

What Are the Effects of Sanitation Poverty?

Sanitation poverty is so much more than not having access to proper toilets. It entails higher risks for disease and violence as well. More than two billion people worldwide do not have access to proper sanitation facilities, which means nearly 892 million people must relieve themselves in fields, streams or other outdoor common areas, leading to contamination, disease and other dangers.[1] Every year about 829,000 people die from diarrheal diseases caused by contaminated water and improper sanitation.[2] In fact, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under five.[3] Many cases could be prevented with proper cleaning and sanitation. On top of that, women who are forced to practice open defecation are 40 percent more likely to experience sexual violence. One study showed that 51 out of 56 women who have to defecate in the open fear being watched or intruded on by men.[4]

Aalia often suffered from seizures. When she needed to use the bathroom, her mother would take her to the field to go before feeding her other children and heading to work. The fourteen-year-old always worried that she wouldn’t be able to wait for her mom to return to make another trip to the field. That fear was often realized, and Aalia regularly had to go there by herself, but her seizures made that trip much more dangerous than it already was.

One day, GFA World pastor Raanan and his wife, Abony, found Aalia lying unconscious on the ground in the middle of the road. After helping Aalia back home, Pastor Raanan learned more about their desperate need for better sanitation. She had had a seizure on her way to use the bathroom. Aalia’s father had died ten years earlier, and her mother made less than $2 a day as a farm laborer, so building a toilet of their own was impossible. After some discussion with GFA’s regional leaders, the church decided to construct a toilet for the family on their own land.

“I am thankful to the Lord for having concern for our family. Because of the Church’s help, we got a sanitation [facility]. It is a great help. I thank God and the church,” Aalia said.[5]

Building these toilets costs an average of $540 to construct one. Any amount donated helps transform the lives of these families, giving them back their dignity, safety, sanitation and hope. Consider donating to this effort, and please pray for our work as we keep fighting against the toilet crisis.

Learn more about toilet poverty

[1] “Sustainable Development Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” United Nations. Accessed November 8, 2022.
[2] Drinking Water Fact Sheet. World Health Organization. March 21, 2022.
[3] “Monthly Prayer Focus.” GFA World. Accessed November 8, 2022.
[4] Saleem, Mahrukh; Burdett, Teresa; Heaslip, Vanessa. “Health and social impacts of open defecation on women: a systematic review.” BMC Public Health. February 6, 2019.
[5] “A Safe Place to Go.” GFA World. May 2021.