Sustainable Development Goal 6 has a target to eliminate open defecation and ensure everyone has access to sustainable sanitation services by 2030, “paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations”.
World Toilet Day 2019 is drawing attention to those people being left behind without sanitation and the social, economic and environmental consequences of inaction.
A toilet is not just a toilet. It’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and opportunity-maker.
We must expand access to safe toilets and leave no one behind. Because whoever you are, wherever you are, sanitation is your human right.
One alternative is springing up from a surprising source: Waste. Waste materials, such as city and market waste, cow dung or even human excreta, can be recovered and made into cleaner, cheaper bioenergy products that can help alleviate the energy poverty that has long plagued sub-Saharan Africa.
But now there are ways to not only treat that waste, but to turn it into something new – a solution and business model all in one.
In their efforts to stave off a second wave of COVID-19, scientists from around the world have turned to a new ally: sewage. Given that many people with the virus are asymptomatic and will not be tested for the disease, scientists say sewage could act like a COVID-19 early warning system.
For more information, see UNEP’s factsheet on COVID-19, wastewater and sewage
An estimated 4.5 billion people worldwide live without access to safely managed sanitation, putting them at risk of infectious diseases. Climate change exacerbates these risks by placing strain on sanitation systems. Therefore, sanitation technologies and services must be designed, operated and managed to cope with climate change and minimise public health risks.
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the worst-ever biological disasters. While countries continue to respond to the global crisis, they are also moving towards recovery and adaptation planning at the national and sub-national levels. We need to ensure that these efforts don’t just address current risks but also take into consideration climate impacts, including extreme and slow onset events.
The World Bank blog ‘Natural disasters and vulnerable groups: Insights for an inclusive and sustainable recovery from COVID-19‘ provides a few lessons from experience in disaster risk management.
Climate change increases variability in the water cycle and makes extreme weather events more frequent, which threatens billions of people’s access to water and sanitation services and places huge stress on ecosystems. Improved water management, including sanitation, is crucial for climate action.
Learn more in this International Water Management Institute (IWMI) article ‘Why nations must prepare for natural disasters amid the current Covid-19 pandemic’.
Read the full IRC article ‘Smarter emergency measures against COVID-19 needed to ensure lasting solutions in service provision’.
COVID19 pandemic: a global threat. What else should we pay attention to? Many infectious diseases are easily transmitted when people have inadequate accesses to toilets, when faeces are insufficiently treated and disposed of, and when personal and domestic hygiene are lacking.
Want to help fight COVID-19? List your organization’s work on the CEO Water Mandate Water Action Hub.
The 2020 edition of the World Water Development Report was released in conjunction with World Water Day on the 22nd March 2020 under the topic ‘Water and Climate Change’.
The report stresses that climate change’s impact on the availability, quality, and quantity of water will weaken the access of billions of people to their basic rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Nowhere near enough money is being spent on climate change, and the low levels of funding allocated aren’t being targeted to help the worst affected countries deal with the effects, putting billions of lives at risk.
Learn more in the WaterAid report ‘Short-changed on climate change: money, water and the people on the frontline’.
COVID-19 has taken lives, devastated economies, and upended relationships. It threatens a new normal fraught with fear and uncertainty. But it has also allowed us to take stock of the interconnected nature of our shared humanity and provide impetus for nations and communities to build back stronger.
Learn more in the UN Network on Migration article ‘Enhancing access to services for migrants in the context of COVID-19 preparedness, prevention, and response and beyond‘.