A Toilet Revolution

It is sad to think that Mr. Whipple didn’t live long enough to lead the toilet revolution. Then again he might have been torn between whether to support the World Toilet Association or the World Toilet Organization.

Maybe they need to a hold a world series of toilets or some kind of cage match between the organizations. I’d really hate to think about how much we’re losing because of competing organizations. Can’t we just flush along.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The World Toilet Association kicked off its inaugural conference Thursday, hoping to spark a sanitation revolution that will save lives through better hygiene and break taboos about what happens behind closed bathroom doors.

To the celebratory rhythms of a percussionist beating on toilets, dozens of government delegates and U.N. representatives began two days of discussions on improving bathroom facilities for the 2.6 billion people worldwide who lack access to proper restrooms.

Dr. Shigeru Omi, western Pacific director of the World Health Organization, said 1.8 million people die annually due to diseases related to inadequate sanitation, 90 percent of them children younger than 5.

Providing healthy bathroom facilities worldwide would cost some $10 billion a year — equal to 1 percent of world military spending or what Europeans annually spend on ice cream, he said. The new association aims to provide toilet facilities to impoverished countries, provide for urgent sanitation needs after natural disasters and spread information and technology for improving toilets.

The South Korean government has given strong backing to the World Toilet Association, which has been spearheaded by the country’s “Mr. Toilet” — parliament member Sim Jae-duck. He earned his nickname for improving public restrooms for the 2002 World Cup as mayor of Suwon city.

“The restroom revolution will provide hope and happiness to mankind,” Sim told delegates.

The group is not associated with the World Toilet Organization, another body that was founded in 2001 by Singapore’s Jack Sim, has 44 member countries and similarly seeks to improve toilet sanitation in the third world.

South Korea’s Sim, who has built a toilet-shaped house in his hometown, was unanimously elected Thursday as the new association’s first president.

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