Flushing Out Poverty with a Hygiene Approach
By admin November 20, 2018

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It’s easy to take toilet for granted. With the coming of the 6th World Toilet Day, the general public and development actors begin to realize that the sanitation crisis is far from being solved. One in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools globally do not have any toilets, the group WaterAid said in a new report observed on Monday. Since 1990, the number of people gaining access to improved sanitation has risen from 54% to 68%, but an estimated 4.5 billion people across the world still lack access to proper sanitation, according to U.N. figures. Although it is a global phenomenon, Africa and Asia are especially under a shortage of “toilet supply”. This is an even greater challenger for refugees, who live in the periphery of different territories.

Living in a world without decent toilets (especially ones connected to a system that safely handles waste) puts people at risk of disease, pollutes the environment, and has a chain effect on education and gender equality. Those living in a community without toilet are forced to defecate in the open — in the streets, in the bushes and by rivers and other water sources, which causes diarrheal diseases that claim the lives of almost 800 children every day — one every two minutes. The health impacts of poor sanitation trap people in poverty, making it difficult to get an education or to work to support their families and forcing them to buy expensive medicine. Moreover, as a UN officer claimed, human dignity is central to this issue. Being forced to defecate in plastic bags or in the open is an embarrassing situation that provokes indignity and shame. Furthermore, inequalities in access always appear when sewage removed from wealthier households is discharged into storm drains, waterways or landfills, polluting poor residential areas.

In 2013, the UN Deputy Secretary-General issued a call to action on sanitation that included the elimination of open defecation by 2025. Multiple organizations such as WaterHealth International,, and WaterAid are taking on the challenges of providing sanitation facilities and clean water. Achieving universal access to a basic drinking water source appears within reach, but universal access to basic sanitation will require additional efforts. Tackling the crisis means that pouring money in building toilets is far from enough since users’ behaviors are interrelated with the cultural and social background. Four professors commissioned an urban landscaping study on determinants of toilet usage and they found that in the case of women, the most significant driver of consistency of toilet use among toilet owners is “social status”. Realizing these barriers, WaterAid launched a project to train people in the communities to build, fix and maintain sanitation services and raise their awareness of using toilet, so that entire communities can unlock their potential and lead healthy, dignified lives. Tech companies have provided another solution: creating an innovative and environmentally-friendly toilet with no need for flushing.

Governments have been engaging positively in conversations about fecal sludge management and waste collection, but different actors need professionalization and there is a need for government skilling programs. Development organizations should make coordinated, long-term sanitation investments focused on both “software” (usage) and “hardware” (facilities). To make monitoring more valuable, integrating failures and successes associated with sanitation delivery in community-based evaluations is also essential. An exemplar is Sanergy of The Acumen Fund. The project builds a network of high-quality “Fresh Life” branded toilets and franchises them to local micro-entrepreneurs. Sanergy employees collect waste from the toilets daily and deliver it to a central processing facility where the waste is converted into organic fertilizer for farmers. This model ensures increased access to improved sanitation facilities in slums while also providing a safe way to treat human waste and capitalize on its inherent value.


Read more:
Identifying Determinants of Toilet Usage by Poor in Urban India

How toilets fight poverty

Greater Access to Cell Phones Than Toilets in India: UN

When Going to the Toilet is a Luxury

World Toilet Day highlights global sanitation crisis

Toilets save lives

World Toilet Day: Flushing Poverty Away


Moving beyond a ‘flush and forget’ mindset in India

Water-free toilet improving sanitation and saving lives worldwide

Thanks for sharing !

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