Giving poverty the flush

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Micah Challenge’s The Great Toilet Tour came to Avondale College of Higher Education during its Festival of Faith in September. What did the loo have to do with the celebration?

Around 3000 children die every day from water, sanitation and hygiene related causes. Almost all of these deaths are preventable.

You probably don’t realise how much progress the world has made since 1990 to reduce extreme poverty. In just 20 years, we’ve:

– Halved the number of people living below the extreme poverty line of $US1.25 a day.

– Halved the proportion of people living without access to clean drinking water. On current rates, 92 per cent of the world’s population will have access to clean drinking water by 2015.

– Reduced from 12 to 7 million a year the number of children dying before their fifth birthday.

This is phenomenal progress. There is much to celebrate. However in many areas, the progress is not sufficient. Enter the giant toilet.
 

Few things are as fundamental to human health and dignity as the water we drink and the way we dispose of our waste. Illnesses related to water and sanitation are among the largest causes of death in the developing world. Around 3000 children die every day from water, sanitation and hygiene related causes. Almost all of these deaths are preventable.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7 aims to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation by 2015. The world is falling short on the sanitation target. We can’t be satisfied when 2.6 billion people still don’t have access to decent sanitation.

Micah Challenge is lobbying the Australian Government to make a substantial increase in the amount of aid it invests in water, sanitation and hygiene, lifting it toward $A500 million a year by 2015.

So the toilet invites us to celebrate, even as we mourn. Surely that is the Christian way. And it invites us to commit ourselves again to pray and act on behalf of those living in poverty. We want more reasons to celebrate!

John Beckett is national coordinator of Micah Challenge Australia, a global campaign of Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice.