World Toilet Organization

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World Toilet Organization
World Toilet Organization logo.png
Founder Jack Sim
Type Non-profit organization
FocusImproving toilet and sanitation conditions
Headquarters Singapore
Region served
Method Advocacy, capacity building, training, building market infrastructure, knowledge management, networking
Website ;

The World Toilet Organization (WTO) is a global non-profit organization committed to improving toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide. It was founded in 2001 [1] with 15 members and has now grown to 151 member organizations in 53 countries. All these members work towards eliminating the toilet taboo and delivering sustainable sanitation solutions worldwide. [2] Furthermore, the WTO is also the organizer of the World Toilet Summit, the Urgent Run and initiated the United Nations World Toilet Day. [3]

Toilet Piece of hardware for the collection or disposal of human excreta

A toilet is a piece of hardware used for the collection or disposal of human urine and feces. In other words: "Toilets are sanitation facilities at the user interface that allow the safe and convenient urination and defecation". Toilets can be with or without flushing water. They can be set up for a sitting posture or for a squatting posture. Flush toilets are usually connected to a sewer system in urban areas and to septic tanks in less built-up areas. Dry toilets are connected to a pit, removable container, composting chamber, or other storage and treatment device. Toilets are commonly made of ceramic (porcelain), concrete, plastic, or wood.

Sanitation public health conditions related to clean drinking water and adequate disposal of human excreta and sewage

Sanitation refers to public health conditions related to clean drinking water and adequate treatment and disposal of human excreta and sewage. Preventing human contact with feces is part of sanitation, as is hand washing with soap. Sanitation systems aim to protect human health by providing a clean environment that will stop the transmission of disease, especially through the fecal–oral route. For example, diarrhea, a main cause of malnutrition and stunted growth in children, can be reduced through sanitation. There are many other diseases which are easily transmitted in communities that have low levels of sanitation, such as ascariasis, cholera, hepatitis, polio, schistosomiasis, trachoma, to name just a few.

World Toilet Day United Nations day on 19 November to tackle global sanitation crisis

World Toilet Day (WTD) is an official United Nations international observance day on 19 November to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Worldwide, 4.5 billion people live without "safely managed sanitation" and around 892 million people practise open defecation. Sustainable Development Goal 6 aims to achieve sanitation for all and end open defecation. World Toilet Day exists to inform, engage and inspire people to take action toward achieving this goal.


Mission and history

WTO was founded by Jack Sim in Singapore on 19 November 2001. Since its inception, WTO has brought together governments, academia, civil society, multilateral agencies and the private sector to explore innovative and sustainable solutions to end the global sanitation crisis. WTO’s mission is to promote the global sanitation movement through collaborative action that inspires and drives demand for sanitation and provides innovative solutions to achieve sustainable sanitation for all.

Jack Sim Singaporean businessman

Jack Sim is the founder of the Restroom Association of Singapore, the World Toilet Organization, the World Toilet Day initiative and Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) Hub. Formerly from the construction industry, he decided to devote the rest of his life to social work after attaining financial independence at the age of 40.

Sustainable sanitation Sanitation system designed to meet certain criteria and to work well over the long-term

Sustainable sanitation is a sanitation system designed to meet certain criteria and to work well over the long-term. The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) includes five features in its definition of "sustainable sanitation." Systems need to be economically and socially acceptable, technically and institutionally appropriate and protect the environment and natural resources.

WTO's Mission WTO Mission.png
WTO's Mission

Key pillars of WTO’s work:

  1. Advocate to change policy on sanitation: Through its global advocacy efforts, WTO hopes to break the taboo associated with sanitation. Its advocacy events include the annual World Toilet Summit, World Toilet Day and Urgent Run.
  2. Educate to change mind-sets on sanitation: WTO collaborates with grassroots organisations and schools to increase awareness of the importance of sanitation in local communities. It does this via public exhibition roadshows and school sanitation and hygiene promotion programs.
  3. Build to develop sanitation infrastructure and capacity: WTO builds toilet infrastructure in various schools and communities in several developing countries. It does this directly, for example through the Rainbow Toilet Initiative in China or via its partners, for example in the Floating Community Toilet project in Cambodia.
  4. Empower to bring about long term social change on sanitation: WTO takes a market-based approach that empowers communities to solve their own sanitation challenges. This is done via the World Toilet College training model which builds capacity for sanitation workers and professionals and also via its social enterprise model, SaniShop.


ActivitiesYearWorld Toilet Summits
Founded World Toilet Organization

Established World Toilet Day 19 Nov

2001Singapore: 19 - 21 Nov
World Toilet Summit2002Seoul, South Korea: 21 Oct – 2 Nov
World Toilet Summit2003Taipei, Taiwan: 10–12 October
World Toilet Summit2004Beijing, China: 17 - 19 Nov
Launched World Toilet College2005Belfast, Northern Ireland: Sept 26 - 29
Accredited by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)2006Moscow, Russia: Sept 6 - 9
Co-founded Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA)2007New Delhi, India: 30 Oct – 3 Nov
Partnered with ICC, USA for setting Global Standards & Codes for toilets2008Macau, China: 2 - 4 Nov
Launched Sanishop in Cambodia – World’s 1st sanitation social enterprise2009Singapore: 2 - 4 Dec
World Toilet Summit2010Philadelphia, USA: 4 - 6 Dec
First local NGO to create and implement a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)2011Hainan Island, China: 22 - 24 Nov
Launched Sanishop India in partnership with eKutir

Launched Sanishop Vietnam in partnership with Unilever

2012Durban, South Africa: 4 - 6 Dec
United Nations adopted 19 Nov as UN World Toilet Day

Achieved special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC

2013Solo, Indonesia: 1 - 4 Oct
Launched the Urgent Run for UN World Toilet Day2014
Launched Floating Toilet Community Project in partnership with Wetlands Work!2015New Delhi, India: 19 - 20 Jan
Launched World Toilet College in India with GIWA and Reckitt Benckiser

Launched Rainbow School Toilet Initiative in Henan Province, China

Launched 50 Years of Sanitation Excellence Roadshow in Singapore

2016Kuching, Malaysia: 27 - 29 Oct


Jack Sim is the founder of the World Toilet Organization, the BoP HUB and is a global advocate for sanitation. Formerly in the construction industry, he founded WTO in 2001 after attaining financial independence at age of 40 and deciding to devote the rest of his life to social work. For ‘creating good will and bringing the subject into the open’ and ‘mobilizing national support in providing on-the-ground expertise’ Jack Sim received the Schwab Foundation award for Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001. In 2007, Jack became one of the key members to convene the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance composed of key players for sanitation. He is an Ashoka Global Fellow, and was named one of the Heroes of the Environment for 2008 by Time Magazine.

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance A network of organizations who are working on sustainable sanitation

The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) is a loose network of organizations who are "working along the same lines towards achieving sustainable sanitation". It began its work in 2007, one year before the United Nation's International Year of Sanitation in 2008. The intention of creating SuSanA was to have a joint label for the planned activities for 2008 and to align the various organizations for further initiatives.


World Toilet Summit

The World Toilet Summit & Expo (WTS) is a global platform that brings together sanitation stakeholders to share, learn and collaborate to address the global sanitation challenge. The annual summit is jointly organised by a host government or organization involving policy makers, toilet associations, non-profits and for-profit entities and private sector stakeholders in the sanitation sector. WTS aims to empower these key players to exchange knowledge, expertise and resources in scaling up impact and innovation in the sanitation marketplace.

World Toilet Day

WTO was founded on 19 November 2001 and the inaugural WTS was held on the same day. WTO recognized the need for an international day to draw global attention to the sanitation crisis – and so established World Toilet Day. [4] NGOs, the private sector, civil society organisations and the international community joined in to mark the global day.

The Urgent Run in Senegal organized to celebrate WTD 2014 World Toilet Day celebrations in Senegal 2014.jpg
The Urgent Run in Senegal organized to celebrate WTD 2014

Urgent Run

Each year, WTO commemorates WTD with the Urgent Run. The Urgent Run is a call for urgent action to end the sanitation crisis and aims to bring communities around the world together to raise awareness for the global sanitation challenge and engage people with sanitation issues in their local communities. For the past few years, in the lead-up to UN World Toilet Day, communities worldwide have come together to organize sanitation-themed Urgent Runs in varying formats and include fun runs, educational events, awareness walks, toilet cleaning programs, carnivals and even motorbike parades. They are organised by community groups, companies, universities, volunteers and NGOs to engage their local communities on their sanitation challenges. [5]

Projects supported

Rainbow School Toilet Initiative

Many school toilets in rural China face problems of having old, unhygienic dry system toilets, absent hand washing facilities, and are often designed where the excreta disposal site is located right behind the toilet building – uncovered and exposed to the environment. Often, these schools lack a cohesive management system to upkeep and maintain the facilities, resulting in the toilet falling into a state of disrepair and neglect. This coupled with students who do not practice good hygiene habits, like handwashing with soap, can result in long-lasting health and environmental consequences.

Hand washing The act of cleaning ones hands

Hand washing, also known as hand hygiene, is the act of cleaning hands for the purpose of removing soil, dirt, and microorganisms. If water and soap is not available, hands can be cleaned with ash instead.

With the aim of inspiring positive, long-lasting behavioural change among Chinese students, WTO`s Rainbow School Toilet Initiative was launched in 2015. In 2016 4 rural schools, with an estimated 1,300 students (average 300 students per school) benefited from the new toilet buildings equipped with a recyclable wastewater treatment plant. [6]

Floating Community Toilet Project

Until 2018, no proper sanitation solution existed for the almost 100,000 people living in floating communities on Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake.[ citation needed ] To address sanitation issues in these floating communities, Wetlands Work! (WW) developed the HandyPod, a product that contains the raw sewage and treats it by harnessing various biological processes. This project aims to eliminate open defecation by providing sanitation systems to floating schools and teaching students to use toilets; improve sanitation and hygiene; reduce school absences due to diarrhea; increase school attendance especially for girls, as well as driving demand for household toilets.

WTO and WW raised funds for the project through various platforms and in 2016 a total 8 HandyPods have been installed befitting approximately 900 students and 650 indirect beneficiaries in their households. The project was developed with a holistic and sustainable approach of technology (Handypods) and behavioural change (hygiene awareness classes) to the communities.

World Toilet College

The World Toilet College (WTC) started as a social enterprise in 2005 with the belief that there is a need for an independent world body to ensure best practices and standards in toilet design, cleanliness and sanitation technologies. While the lack of toilets is an endemic problem, poor management and hygienic maintenance are equally serious issues. A well-kept toilet will encourage proper usage and prevent deadly diseases. [7]

The goal of WTC’s programmes is to ensure the dignity of sanitation workers and elevate the otherwise poor image (and consequent low pay) reserved for this employment category in many places around the world. WTC does this by training and providing toilet cleaners with professional skills in both cleaning and performance of small repairs, thereby boosting their self-confidence. This empowers them with the opportunity to master the profession while at the same time enhancing their productivity. Since 2005 WTC has trained more than 5,000 people across its various courses and conducted programmes and courses.


WTO created SaniShop, a social enterprise that improves sanitation conditions globally by empowering local entrepreneurs. The organization started its market-based approach in Cambodia in 2009 in collaboration with the University of North Carolina, Lien Aid and iDE in Kampung Speu. Since then SaniShop has built more than 12,000 household toilets and trained more than 526 sales entrepreneurs in 7 provinces.

The SaniShop model is a self-sustaining market ecosystem. WTO teaches community members to educate and spread messaging regarding the importance of good hygiene and sanitation, whilst training masons to build new toilets and to market them to their community. WTO believes in addressing the issue of inadequate sanitation and to end open defecation via a multi-pronged approach that inspires behavioural change both in the individual, and community.

See also

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  4. "Don't Laugh: World Toilet Day Aims to Promote Sanitation, Rid World of Disease". Fox News. 19 November 2008.
  5. "What's the urgency?". The Urgent Run. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  6. manic, & Sim, J. (22 March 2016). World Toilet. Retrieved 5 May 2017, from
  7. "World Toilet College Set To Open In India". Forbes. 24 September 2015.(subscription required)