Monday, July 14, 2014

First Night in the Country

American Art Post Card Co.

Postcard Caption
1:-First Night in the Country (44203)
I am grateful to live in an era of indoor plumbing and to be in the country and class with taken for granted access to the amenity. In fact, my only experiences of bathrooms in the wild occurred on camping trips or at festivals or events with outdoor portapotties.

A trip to the outhouse wouldn't be unusual before 1930, especially in the country where sewer systems hadn't been built. Paul S. Boyer and Clifford E. Clark, in The Enduring Vision, report:
In 1890 only 24 percent of American dwellings had running water. As late as 1897, over 90 percent of the families in tenements had no baths and had to wash in hallway sinks or courtyard hydrants. By 1920, 80 percent of American houses, particularly those in rural areas, still lacked indoor flush toilets. The reason was simple: indoor plumbing was expensive and depended on the availability of water and sewer systems. Adding indoor plumbing increased the price of a new house by 20 percent.
Indoor plumbing benefited citizens not just because it was convenient; more conscious management of waste reduced a number of illnesses caused when human fecal matter contaminated water or soil. The United Nations estimates that for every $1 spent on sanitation, $8 is saved from reduced costs of illness and lost productivity. (Indoor plumbing is not the only method of waste management; compost toilets and other systems can provide safe sanitation systems. I'm sure there are others as well.)

Across the world, 2.4 billion people, or 40% of the global population, do not have access to sanitation systems. Many relieve themselves in waterways or in the open, dangerous not just because of the potential contamination and risk of disease. Using the bathroom in this manner can contribute to bladder infections or make women and girls vulnerable to sexual assault. Lack of adequate sanitation can also present a barrier for enrolling in school in countries such as Uganda.

Not all Americans have equal access to adequate plumbing. The most recent American Community Survey revealed that 630,000 households lacked either a toilet, bath or shower, or running water. The Washington Post estimates that, given the average size of American households, 1.6 million people in the United States have incomplete plumbing systems in their homes.

If you are amazed, as I am, by these numbers and want to learn how you can help those who need access to clean toilets, visit WaterAid America. I'm particularly interested in their Girlstrong program. The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance also works in this area. Please check out these links!

Further Reading

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