There's toilet themed restaurants, a toilet museum and even a thriving global market worth $45 billion on toilet paper alone.

But still one in three people in the world do not have access to toilets or sustainable sanitation.

Get this: there are more people in the world who have access to cellphones than they do toilets. An estimated 6 billion people have mobile phones while only 4.5 billion people in the world have access to clean toilets.

And it’s a major health issue. Diarrheal diseases are the second most common cause of death in young children in developing countries. They kill more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined, according to the United Nations.

Yesterday the United Nations General Assembly celebrated its annual World Toilet Day to call attention to the dismal number of toilets facilities around the world.

Advertisement

According to the United Nations, 2.5 billion people — one in three people in the world — do not have a toilet or access to sustainable sanitation.

The issue disproportionately affects women too because in many countries girls stay home during menstruation days because of the absence of a safe place to change and clean themselves. Many drop out altogether according to a UN report.

“Let’s face it—this is a problem that people do not like to talk about. But it goes to the heart of ensuring good health, a clean environment and fundamental human dignity for billions of people,” U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said in a statement earlier this year.

Advertisement

In 2012, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program launched a competition for a low-cost next generation toilet to help get poor communities in developing countries access sustainable sanitation. The California Institute of Technology received the $100,000 first prize for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity.

But as Jason Kass, the founder of Toilets for People, points out many of the innovations are still not affordable for most of the 2.5 billion people in the world without toilets.

“What they need are the kind of toilets that they can buy or build with a few weeks’ savings,” Kass wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed on Monday.

Advertisement

“Ecological toilets that use natural composting to break down waste are simple to construct, waterless and are easy to fix. This is the go-to toilet for cottage owners in America who live too close to the water to have a septic system,” Kass said.