Meet Mr Toilet

Jack Sim founded the Restroom Association of Singapore in 1998 to break the taboo of discussing toilet issues and habits and improve toilet design.

Globally 2.5 billion people do not have access to a toilet, with significant health and pollution consequences. Realising the extent of the global sanitation problem, Jack founded The World Toilet Organisation in 2001, with the aim of forming a global network to promote sustainable sanitation systems – now running a World Toilet College and annual World Toilet Summit.

After achieving financial independence at age 40, Jack has devoted the rest of his life to social work, receiving numerous business, environmental and humanitarian awards in the process.

“A life is 80 years, I’m now only 52. If I’m going to spend my next 28 years consuming ostentatiously, just to have a diamond watch, with which I can’t even tell the time because it’s so sparkly, it makes no sense! Doing social work that creates some impact, I think it is better to die doing that.”

Known as Mr Toilet to his many admirers, Jack hopes to see the day when everyone has access to a clean toilet.

[More Ideas for ‘making a difference’ in The Year I Saved the World]

Photo from Wikicommons

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Life in Mathare

A series of ‘Foto Friday’ posts focusing on the lives of people living in extreme poverty around the world. Over 1 billion people across the globe live on the equivalent of less than $1 a day to meet all their needs. Being more aware of the lives of the world’s poor can help  us reevaluate the extent of our own hardships and build empathy and compassion.

The Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, is home to over half a million people, many of whom live their entire lives without ever leaving its dirty, crowded and dangerous streets.

The photo above shows as typical metal shed latrine in Mathare.

In common with many slums across the world, there is no proper sewerage system and only a very limited drinking water supply. Almost non of the tiny, overcrowded homes have any form of toilets, so the common tin shed laterines, which simply empty into ditches running down the street, are the only place to go! Disease and vermin are the inevitable result.

Various charities are working with local people to provide suitable toilet facilities and basic hygiene and santitation in places like Mathare, mapping open sewers and installing new toilets.

Photo by sustainable sanitation via Flickr