The United Nations (UN) is asking the world to pay attention to toilet wastewater treatment on November 19, World Toilet Day.
The UN called the situation a "global sanitation crisis", citing the following facts:
Inadequate toilets and poor bathroom practices are often in the news in developing countries like China and India. In the eastern Chinese province Shandong, a hotel cleaner was criticized after being filmed cleaning a toilet with a guest's towel.
And a Bollywood movie called "Toilet: A Love Story" was released in August, highlighting the lack of toilets in India.
The UN defined how excrement should be processed, in four steps:
Containment. Excrement must be deposited into a hygienic toilet and stored in a sealed pit or tank, separated from human contact;
Transport. Pipes or latrine emptying services must move the excrement to the treatment stage;
Treatment. Excrement must be processed into treated wastewater and waste products that can be safely returned to the environment;
Disposal or reuse. Safely treated excrement can be used for energy generation or as fertilizer in food production.
A lot of countries have poured massive resources into improving sanitation. China's "toilet revolution" is gathering pace, with examples like high-tech loos that use sensors for monitoring the environment. And a similar campaign in India is aiming to build toilets for every home by 2019.
There's also a toilet charity that renamed an Indian village after US President Donald Trump raised public attention.
Toilets can be an embarrassing topic. But it's more embarrassing not to address such a life-threatening crisis.
"If there's one thing that unites humanity, it's the call of nature," as the UN website read on World Toilet Day.