World Stamps

By Tom Stillman

World Toilet Day: potty humor or a serious topic?

September 04, 2015 05:00 PM

  • Samoa commemorated World Toilet Day on four stamps issued Nov. 19, 2014.
  • San Marino's three stamps for World Toilet Day were issued June 16.

 "We know what you’re thinking: 'Really? World Toilet Day? This must be a joke..., " is how the Water Aid America's web page about World Toilet Day begins its discussion about the day. And those exact same questions went through my mind when I came across the new issue from Samoa in the Aug. 17, 2015, issue of Linn’s Stamp News Monthly.”  I thought I’d been hearing too much potty humor from my friends’ 5-year old triplets.  But World Toilet Day is a real thing commemorated on stamps issued by Samoa on Nov. 19, 2014, and by San Marino on June 16, 2015.

November 19 is the date of the annual observance.  It was initially established by the World Toilet Organization in 2001 and became recognized as a United Nations international day in 2013.

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In the United States, we live in such a wealthy nation that we are unaware of facts such as one-third of the world’s population does not have access to basic sanitation and clean water. Most of us know that lack of sanitation or a compromise in a sewage system can lead to cholera.  According to Wikipedia, there are at least 15 diseases that can be caused by lack of sanitation systems.

According to Water Aid, a half million children die every year because of inaccessibility to toilets and clean water. The majority of these children (278,000) are from Africa; 181,000 are from South Asia; 9,700 from East Asia; and the rest of the world accounts for another 40,000.

The goal of Water Aid America is for the entire world to have reasonable access to basic sanitation in 15 short years.

One of the many wonders of stamp collecting is to make the public aware of important issues (pardon the pun) such as this.