WASH: Sanitation Matters

Flushing a toilet.

A simple action that we all do -at least- once a day. But the same thing, for many people worldwide is a sort of luxury action.

According to the last estimates about 2.5 billion people still have no access to basic sanitation facilities and, even in urban areas -where household and communal toilets are more prevalent- 2.1 billion people either use toilets connected to septic tanks that are not safely emptied or use other systems that discharge raw sewage into surface r groundwater.

The consequences in terms of human suffering, economic loss and environmental degradation are, as one can imagine, quite severe.

2008 was the elected as the International Year of Sanitation to accelerate progress for the billions of people world wide who are without proper sanitation facilities. This helped and supported the implementation of projects, the launch of advocacy campaings and called for political actions in this direction. However, progress are slow and the world is badly off-track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal target for sanitation. There are several reasons for this, notably: reticence to talk about the subject itself, lack of political leadership on the subject, inconsistent ways of tackling the problem, and inadequate finance (WSSCC).

When travelling I experienced in several occasions the lack of sanitation facilities,  poor hygiene and maintenance. In these circumstances I always felt so lucky I have the privilege of disposing of adequate supplies at home. Anyway you do not necessarily have to travel in remote or poor regions in the world to see how often people neglect the link between sanitation and health…

Of course, according to the part of the world you live in, priorities are different, but we should all raise our voice and call for an improvement of the conditions of the 2.5 billions people mentioned before.

Quoting Rose George in her TED talk:  it’s definitely time to talk crap! Seriously!

L’hygiène sanitaire ne va pas sans hygiène mentale. (Amélie Nothomb – Stupeur et Tremblements)


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