UN-Habitat is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
The Urgent Run Pakistan Campaign reached out to 7.7 million people worldwide on World Toilet Day 2015
Advocacy walks by students, academicians, civil society organisations, and media called for improved sanitation and hygiene in Pakistan
Islamabad and Karachi – 17th to 19th November 2015: UN-Habitat and UNICEF in partnership with NED University Karachi and NUST Islamabad commemorated the World Toilet Day from 17 to 19th November 2015. In order to increase awareness about sanitation and hygiene in Pakistan, the university students organized walks at the campuses which highlighted the importance of advocacy in line with objectives of the World Toilet Day. A famous actor and TV artist Zahid Ahmed joined the walk in Karachi.
“1 in 3 people in the world still do not have access to a clean and safe toilet which causes spread of diseases” said Mr. Irfan Alrai, WASH Specialist UNICEF. “Sanitation plays a critical role in sustainable development as recognized under the sustainable development goals. Inadequate sanitation and lack of toilets contribute towards diarrhoea which kills around 142 children every day. The continuous sufferings from diarrhoea is linked to stunting and malnutrition. In Pakistan, 4 out of 10 children under five years of age are stunted. The government and sector partners in WASH must continue to trigger and mobilize communities so that the toilet use becomes a social norm”, he further told.
Ms. Jannat Durrani, WASH Officer UN-Habitat stated that “We at UN-Habitat are proud to have brought out in open the grim situation of underprivileged citizens of the world who don’t have access to sanitation and proper MHM facilities.”
Zahid Ahmed said, “It is always a pleasure to become a part of such initiatives which help to raise awareness about the critical issues related to health and hygiene. Glad to see academia and students stepping forward to enable change in society.”
The walks were arranged as part of the international ‘Urgent Run’ advocacy campaign and is an integral part of the series of initiatives taken in Pakistan by organisations for World Toilet Day 2015. Students from various disciplines within NED University Karachi, NUST Islamabad, civil society organisations like WaterAid, AHKMT, RSPN, HANDS, and PIEDAR participated in the walks, pledging determination towards increasing awareness about sanitation.
The theme for 2015 World Toilet Day; ‘Better sanitation for better nutrition’ draws attention to the need for better sanitation to improve health and nutrition for everyone, everywhere. While having a toilet is important for everyone, access to safe, clean toilets brings particular benefits to women and girls during menstruation. The Urgent Run Pakistan Walks have been used as a platform to disseminate the message of Menstrual Hygiene Management as well in an attempt to break the silence around MHM in Pakistan. An MHM symposium will be held in the first week of December from the platform of the MHM working group, focusing on the significance of improved MHM, and the importance of sanitation for MHM.
The walks received huge appreciation and propagation on the social media at a national and international level under the hashtag #UrgentRunPk which trended all across Pakistan and reached out to 7.7 million people worldwide on social media, receiving special recognition from international organisations like World Toilet Organisation and PHLUSH.