"Knowledge of history and progress of technology may contribute to better understanding of basic human needs and inspire new developments in the field."

Source: Yannopoulos et al (2017), "History of sanitation and hygiene technologies in the Hellenic world", Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, v07.2.

in History

Toilets are not a new thing to the world, but their journey isn't always that straightforward, either.


Explore the timeline to see how sometimes humans go forward, and then backward, and then forward again.


On your right is a timeline with important milestones that have led the world to its current toilet state. Scroll backward through time to learn more.



Throughout time there have been several myths and cultural lore around the workings of the toilet. There have been gods, goddesses, demons, ghosts, and other magical figures related to the culture of the toilet.

Below are several examples of these mythical creatures. Click to get more details.

Babylonian toilet demon
Judeo-Christian demon who sits on a toilet throne
Islamic demon that often inhabits dirty toilets
Chinese toilet goddess
Japanese demon of bathroom filth
Korean toilet goddess
Kawaya No-Kami
Japanese toilet god
Ancient Roman goddess of the sewer
Ancient Roman god of dung
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The Current Sanitation Situation

Location and Hours

We can be reached by phone 24 hours a day at 1.403.343.1619 or by email at info@pregnancycare.ca during office hours.

Red Deer

5116 47 St, Red Deer, AB T4N 1R9 info@pregnancycare.ca 24 Hour Helpline: 1-844-343-1611 Office: 1-403-343-1611 Monday: 9am – 5pm
Tuesday: 9am – 5pm
Wednesday: 9am – 8pm
Thursday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: Closed
Weekends: Closed Follow us on FACEBOOK


4911-51 Ave, Olds, Alberta T4H 1P7
24 Hour Helpline: 1-844-343-1611 Office: 1-587-796-1611 Tuesday: 10am – 5pm
Wednesday: 10am – 5pm
5pm – 8pm by appointment only
Thursday: 10am – 5pm Follow us on FACEBOOK

Rocky Mountain House

4704 46 St, Rocky Mountain House, AB
24 Hour Helpline: 1-844-343-1611 Office: 1-403-871-5111 Monday: 10am – 6pm
Thursday: 10am – 6pm Follow us on FACEBOOK


drumheller@pregnancycare.ca 24 Hour Helpline: 1-844-343-1611 Office: 1-403-334-9311 Tuesday: 10am - 5pm Thursday: 10am - 5pm Follow us on FACEBOOK


Bay #2, 5040 49 Ave, Caroline, AB
24 Hour Helpline: 1-844-343-1611 Office: 1-403-871-5111 Tuesday: 12pm – 4pm By appointment only Follow us on FACEBOOK


Taboo Corner

What is a taboo? At FLUSH, "taboo" means something that is socially unacceptable - either in action or in talking about it. Taboo things are not necessarily enforced by law.


There are different reasons why cultures are reluctant to change their habits and behaviors with water and sanitation. Some of them are unique.


Below is a map with different taboos that exist in different areas of the world. Click on a point to learn more.

Wash Projects Fails

You'd be surprised how often the news contains fascinating stories about toilets. We’ve collected a few below, or follow us on Twitter to learn more.

"If they build it, they will come"

Building toilets for people and then leaving the scene has been a historically common way people in the world of water & sanitation have tried to improve access to sanitation.
Read more: The Last Taboo: (by Black & Fawcett)

Read more: Toilets & Taps Aren't Enough (by Casey & Crichton-Smith)

"Let's have a marathon training event"

​Training people with the skills to help others get access to clean water and sanitation takes time. Many training sessions are crammed into one or two 6-8 hour days. As a result, people don't remember what they were taught and are not confident in using the skills they just learned.

Read more: NGO Partnerships and Capacity Development in the WASH Sector (by Willetts et al)

Read more: Capacity Building in Cambodia’s Rural Local Governments for the Sanitation Market (by Worsham et al)

"Isn't there some silver bullet..."

What may be a successful solution for one community, may not necessarily work for another. Different terrains require different toilet structures and cultural differences must be accounted for in order for a system to prosper. 

Read more: Reinventing the silver bullet (by Smits at IRC WASH)

"Surely, we can fix this problem in 3 years..."

When you consider the significant amount time needed to set up and dismantle a project, there is very little time left to actually examine, analyze and execute all that is necessary to ensure the project is a success. Furthermore, expecting to change customs that have existed for generations in just a few short years can be unrealistic. Often times, slippage occurs and despite the best efforts of those involved, people go right back to their old ways.  


Read more: Understanding slippage: 8 ways going forward (WSSCC)

"Let's talk to the male leaders of this community for solutions..."

Sure, talking to the leaders about a sensitive topic like toilets is important, but often times the best people to talk to are the ones with the most to lose without access to clean water and toilets – the women, the disabled, the elderly, and the vulnerable. Including these groups in the project planning is crucial to ensuring its success.


Read more: Realizing Sanitation Access and Usage at Any Time, for Everyone and Everywhere (by SNV)

Read more: Gender Equality and Disability Inclusion within WASH (by WaterAid)


Note: Thanks to the CS WASH Fund for hosting resources.

Interesting Initiatives

You'd be surprised by how neat some of the initiatives some people have taken (with some amount of success) to improve the status of water, sanitation, and hygiene.  Below is a map of some of these initiatives that have been tried out, including years, details, and often links. Click on a point to learn more.


© 2018 FLUSH


Ancient Roman god of dung