Today is the first United Nations World Toilet Day, which recognizes the importance of sanitation to health and development. A just-released World Bank study says that better sanitation gives children a leg up on learning. "Open defecation lies at the root of many development challenges, as poor sanitation and lack of access to toilets impact public health, education and the environment," says World Bank water and sanitation manager Jaehyang So. New self-contained systems may provide for hope than expensive sewage systems in reaching an estimated 2.5 billion people without access to flush toilets, Chelsea Wald writes in Nautilus.
UNICEF is proactively stepping up its measles immunization program for children in Syria and neighboring countries, especially those in refugee camps. "These are conditions that are conducive to the spread of disease and things are not getting any better for the Syrians either inside of the country or outside," says UNICEF's Marixie Mercado.
The United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice has declared that trafficking in wildlife and timber is a criminal activity. "This is a breakthrough resolution in terms of recognizing the serious nature of wildlife crimes, encouraging governments to view this not just as an environmental issue but as a crime akin to human or arms trafficking," says Wendy Elliott of the World Wildlife Fund.
Companies can make a difference when it comes to funding global development. "Private sector investment is key to global development. Foreign assistance shouldn't be a permanent station in life," said former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking Monday at the United Nations Foundation-hosted 2013 Forum on Global Development meeting.
Improvements in sanitation and hygiene are lagging compared to other Millennium Development Goals, writes Mark Tran. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan has agreed to help endorse efforts to improve toilets, latrines, hand-washing and sanitation in India, but, worldwide, governments are expected to fall short.