A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Toilet Tantrums

WTO. World Trade Organisation. Right?
Well, it depends on the context. Put Singapore, Jack Sim and WTO together and you get the World Toilet Organisation. No kidding.

Jack is one of the only people I have met to have a passion for toilets. Clean ones. To him, the mark of how prosperous a nation is can be marked by how clean their public facilities are. Which does not make for many prosperous nations. He reeled off a stultifying fact. 1.6 million children dying each year from diarrhoea related illnesses, mostly due to inadequate sanitation facilities.

So the WTO are on a mission to clean up the world’s act. But it is not just about clean toilets. In some places there aren’t even proper toilets. So it is about the design and implementation of proper facilities. It is about teaching people how to maintain them. It is about adequate water supply, and ensuring that drinking and latrine waters do not mix. It is about teaching basic hygiene practices. It is about understanding the system which results in the 1.6 million deaths and making appropriate changes in the system to reduce that number.

Sounds like a very costly affair? Well in some respects it could be. But for Jack, he does not let not having the finance to do it stop him. He sees the world as ‘resource rich’, and himself as the catalyst or facilitator, linking those resources together. The lack of something is simply a motivator.

The lack of clean toilets was his initial motivator, and he used the media to rally support. He would be seen about Singapore wrapped in toilet paper, carrying a toilet brush, with a large toilet seat around his next. It made people laugh, but it got attention.

Did it get yours?


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