You talking scitte to me? I hope so!

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That’s right, I said it. Why? Because if we can’t say it we can’t solve it! Solve what, you ask? The world has a shit-crisis — more than 2.5 billion people do not have access to toilet facilities. That is forty percent of the total world population. Just to simplify, imagine what your neighborhood would be like if four out of ten families had no toilet and had to use the local area for their business. You say, “but I wouldn’t have to worry since I have a toilet.” WRONG! Where do you think they are going to purge themselves? You can bet it will not be in their own yards. I can assure you of that.

Sanitation experts are not afraid to say it at symposiums and conferences. I have heard professors say it into the microphone. I have even seen royalty, in front of hundreds of professionals, academia, politicians and ministers of science, admit to doing it outside. Unfortunately, all of those instances of pure honesty were uttered outside the US border.


A couple of close friends of mine revel in being called a shitty name. Trevor Mulaudzi, a sanitation hero, from South Africa, is affectionately known as Dr. Shit. Jack Sim from Singapore, who is one of the most highly acclaimed philanthropists in the world, is proud to be called Mr. Toilet.

Plumbers, comedians, actors, housewives, toddlers, and even vice presidents sometimes let it slip in public, but usually not in the right context. Why? Let’s face the fact. If you were born in a developed country, the United States for example, you are lucky in the sense that our forefathers realized that sanitation – having as little human contact with our feces and removing it from the public contact, solved so many major health problems.

It saved our lives, increased our workforce potential, improved our health, kept millions of people out of hospitals, extended our life span, saved trillions of dollars, kept kids in school, and on and on and on. We addressed it and our society has prospered because we don’t even have to think about it. Thank you plumbers!

Most people in developed countries don’t even think about how often they use the bathroom. Do you know exactly how often you go each day? Do you think those people in the poorest countries (at the bottom of the pyramid or bop) that cannot access a toilet know how often they find a place to scitte (purge)? You bet they do, especially women and children because that is when they are at their most vulnerable.

If the decision makers, the establishment, those that have the direct ability to make a change, stop using words that sound too technical like fecal sludge management, feculance, excrement and human waste, and just call it what it is, we would be better able to face the issue. It is okay to blush, giggle or get embarrassed…for a moment…as long as you don’t forget about the 2.5 billion afterwards.

No more number 2, crap or bowel movements! We should say the word scitte, or shite or even just plain shit (Shite, common in Irish English). Because if we can’t say it, we can’t solve it. If we can’t solve it, another child will continue to die every fifteen seconds because of it!

Jay Peters, Sanitation Soldier

[1] shit (n.)

Old English scitte “purging,” from source of shit (v.). Sense of “excrement” dates from 1580s.

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