The work of the GTO is motivated by the fact that the sanitation coverage in many parts of the world is insufficient. Estimates by the WHO and UNICEF (2008) show that 2.5 billion people, living mainly in so-called "developing countries", do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities: a breach of the affected individuals' dignity.
This continues to be the overwhelming reality for the majority of people .
Missing toilets and unhygienic wastewater disposal can result in surface water bodies, groundwater and the soil becoming contaminated by untreated effluents. This in turn spreads disease and can be dangerous to all, but particularly affected are women, the elderly and children. As a result, sanitation was linked to safe drinking water supply in the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations at the World Summit Conference for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002).
Toilet access is taken for granted in Germany, like in many other so-called "industrialised" countries. Basic human needs can be satisfied daily without users having to worry about the disposal of their waste.
However, many deficiencies are still found outside the home. Missing, poorly designed or maintained toilets are quite common, and particularly in schools. Discrimination against women can also be seen in the insufficient toilet facilities provided in many theatres, cinemas and public buildings.
A public discussion of toilet culture is essential for the improvement of the sanitation situation in Germany and around the world.