Before we continue, let's just answer the question - yes.
Note: The research report is available in our Resource Library and can be viewed in detail by downloading the PDF file:
There is a disconnect between how toilet experts and the general public talk about sanitation. This makes it hard for WASH organizations to connect with people; even scarier, it means that most people don't know much about sanitation.
FLUSH's 2022 Summer Intern Gloria Odenyo led a research analysis to review how different regions search for sanitation-related terms online. This research shed light on how experts could better communicate its importance to the general public. It also shows how toilet talk varies based on location.
Our findings showed that there is growing global curiosity about toilets, the definition of sanitation depends on the location (and does not always include toilets), and that the general public rarely searches technical terms used by WASH experts.
One of our recommendations is that the WASH sector leverage the growing toilet searches and popularity spikes to build awareness about communities lacking access to safe sanitation services.
The WASH sector should also prioritize better, simpler communication with the public to raise awareness about issues such as toilets' carbon emissions, sanitation-related pollution, and other public health issues.
Could this analysis be a useful way to change how the WASH sector talks about itself to the general public? We certainly think it's a good start.