About 500 people in Malta do not have access to a flushing toilet in their homes, according to a survey published by Eurostat.
That amounts to just 0.1 per cent of the population.
The statistic was published to mark World Toilet Day, a day observed by the United Nations to raise awareness about the 4.2 billion people globally who live without access to safely managed sanitation.
Across the EU, roughly two per cent of households do not have a flushing toilet for their exclusive use. The highest recorded number was in Romania, where nearly one in four people do not have access to their own toilet.
Malta was at the lower end of the spectrum, joined by Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Germany which all registered under one per cent, while Sweden had close to zero people reporting no access to a toilet at home.
Noel Xerri, chair of the Anti-Poverty Forum Malta, told Times of Malta that the numbers may have increased since the data was gathered in 2019, saying that he himself had witnessed families living in fields or rural dwellings with no electricity and running water.
“There are cases of people who go out to work with a suit and tie and return to the home they share with nine other people. There are people who do not even have their own bed. They share it and sleep on it in shifts,” Xerri said.
“This is the strange symptom of society that the more we progress economically, the more poverty increases and it doesn’t make sense.
“Now granted, this is not a large strata of people and it’s not to say that social services aren’t tackling these issues, but the more time passes the more we are seeing the situation become precarious.”
Xerri said that while cases of children living in less than ideal conditions may be flagged by a social worker, adults living month to month under the crushing weight of mounting financial responsibility do not have as many places to turn to for aid. “This isn’t just down to parents,” Xerri said. “If a family is earning minimum wage and struggling to turn the wheel of paying rent and keeping food on the table, they might end up in very difficult situations.
“We live in an economic society where money is the most important thing. Unfortunately, a certain section of people are more concerned with how they can continue to gain rather than how their actions affect others.”
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