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Word Toilet Day: Lack of public toilets seen as crucial sanitation problem

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Cameroon has joined the rest of the globe to commemorate world toilet day, with many stating that the lack of public toilets is a crucial sanitation problem that needs to be addressed urgently.

The toilet crisis is most severe in parts of Africa and Asia facing extreme poverty and seeing a population boom.

One in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools globally do not have any toilets, the group WaterAid said in a new report to mark the U.N.-designated toilet day, observed on Monday, as part of efforts to end the global sanitation crisis.

An estimated 4.5 billion people across the world lack access to proper sanitation, said the report. Some 2.5 billion among them do not have adequate toilets, according to U.N. figures. The lack of toilets forces many to defecate in the open — in the streets, in the bushes and by rivers and other water sources.

Among the development goals set by the U.N. in 2015 is a target to ensure everyone has access to a safe toilet by 2030. But campaigners warn this goal will be hard to meet if governments and businesses do not put more money into the sanitation economy.

Sanitation is “the business of the decade,” said Cheryl Hicks, chief executive of the Geneva-based business group Toilet Board Coalition. She told The Associated Press that the group is urging commercial investment to help reduce toilet shortages in countries where governments cannot afford such infrastructure.

“Half the world needs toilets. They don’t have them because the infrastructure is too expensive for governments,” she said.

African countries are among the neediest.

The new report by WaterAid cites an estimated 344 million children in sub-Saharan Africa who lack a toilet at home, leaving them vulnerable to diarrhea and other water-borne infections.

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