Life without a toilet for 2.6 billion worldwide!

October 18th, 2008 - 9:18 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Oct 18 (IANS) A controversial exhibition has opened at the world famous McMaster University at Hamilton near here to raise the taboo topic of toilet whose lack is taking a huge toll on humanity each year.The exhibition, Sanitation is Dignity, cries for global attention to millions of deaths caused annually by poor water, sanitation and hygienic conditions.

Apart from the exhibition, the university is also organizing an international workshop - with the support of the UN University International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) - to raise awareness about the United Nations International Year of Sanitation, and offer solutions to the global problem.

“Where would we go if we didn’t have access to a toilet? For 2.6 billion people - more than 40 per cent of the world’s population - it is a daily reality,” a statement by the organizing university said.

Citing UN figures, it said poor water, sanitation and hygiene claims more than 3.5 million lives annually.

Diarrhea alone accounts for 1.4 million preventable child deaths each year, it said.

The controversial exhibition shows life-size, two-dimensional figures defecating in the open, trying to “preserve their privacy and dignity” behind backpacks and garbage bins.

These figures will be placed throughout the campus to raise awareness and empathy for billions of people who don’t have access to a toilet, the university statement said.

“We see this initiative as part of our commitment to bring to campus engaging projects that respond to both current and critical issues,” the statement quoted Carol Podedworny, director and curator of the McMaster Museum of Art, as saying.

“It is an exhibit that will provoke discussion, and inspire the teaching and research interests of students, of faculties, and of the general public.”

During the exhibition, experts from around the world will participate in a workshop “Sanitation: Innovations in Policy and Finance” to examine why the world is falling behind the UN’s sanitation coverage goals, and what needs to be done to change the situation.

“We can imagine hunger or thirst, but the idea of living without a toilet is unimaginable for most of us,” says McMaster University professor Susan Elliott who is a senior research fellow at UNU-INWEH.

The exhibition, which runs till Nov 1, has already been shown throughout the world, including New York’s Central Park.

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