World Sanitation Problems

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Global Warming and Other Environmental Threats: World Sanitation Problems
Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Monday, August 27, 2007 - 7:45 pm
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Flushers won't work in many places, largely because of the cost, not to mention water supply, so it's only a matter of time before the international agencies take composting more seriously. What I have found in working with NGOs and government agencies is that they are mostly engineers and other people with post-graduate degrees accustomed to an office lifestyle and flush toilets and the just don't quite "get" the composting alternative. In other words, they wouldn't be caught dead composting their own crap, so why would they want to encourage it for anyone else? Nevertheless, as the world population increases and drinking water supplies dwindle, composting becomes a more and more attractive alternative.

Author: TCLynx (Tclynx)
Saturday, August 25, 2007 - 2:24 pm
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This article is a little worrying because I fear it is more likely to involve installing running water and sewers through overpopulated areas instead of composting.

What is your take on this Joe? I've loved hearing about your trips to Mongolia but is the UN likely to support the idea of humanure composting instead of putting in flushers?

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 2:46 pm
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Using the toilet, a matter of life or death:

The UN has declared 2008 the International Year of Sanitation -

[August 17, 2007]

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Almost a third of people in the world have no access to a toilet, a privation that has dramatic consequences and leads to millions of deaths each year, experts at a water conference said this week.

Children, highly susceptible to hygiene-related diseases, are the main victims.

"Diarrhea resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene is responsible for the death of more than two million impoverished children each year," the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said during the World Water Week conference gathering some 2,500 international experts in the Swedish capital.

According to SIWI spokesman David Trouba, 50 to 70 percent of the world's hospitals are full of patients suffering from easily-preventable water-related diseases.

And the World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all sickness in the world is attributable to unsafe water and sanitation.

Yet the problem has not attracted the attention it deserves and is described as the "orphan child" of the water sector, often underexplored and underfinanced.

"It's one of those untold stories of the development sector," said Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment in India and a prominent expert at the conference.

"One reason is the taboo part. You don't talk about these issues so easily, it's a private thing," lamented Johan Kuylenstierna, the director of World Water Week.

But Narain noted with a hint of optimism that governments were beginning to make the issue a priority.

Sanitation and hygiene conditions have wide-ranging implications on society.

They play a direct role on people's overall health, but also on infant mortality rates, poverty reduction, the role of women and girls in society, schooling, the environment, and social and economic development, according to the United Nations.

"Women are most affected by the problem of lacking sanitation systems," Kuylenstierna said.

Gynecological illnesses and hygiene problems linked to menstruation make girls and women particularly vulnerable.

Many girls do not pursue an education because schools do not have proper toilets or they must share toilets with boys.

Lack of clean water also affects education since many students who fall ill miss classes, the UN said.

The one-third of the population who have no access to toilets, or 2.6 billion people, generate more than 200 million tonnes (220 million US tons) of excrement annually that are neither collected nor treated, presenting a health risk.

Installing toilets would not be very costly, insisted Kuylenstierna, who criticised the lack of political will and action in the field as a "scandal".

For each dollar spent on improving sanitation and hygiene conditions, between three and 34 dollars (25 euros) would be saved in the fields of health, education and socio-economic development, according to the UN.

The UN has declared 2008 the International Year of Sanitation, putting the spotlight on public health amid a rise in urban poverty and expanding slums.

"The slum problem is very much a water and sanitation problem," said Inga Bjoerk Klevby, the deputy director of the UN's housing programme Habitat.

Some one billion people, or one of every six people in the world, currently live in slums, poverty-stricken and overpopulated neighbourhoods that have inadequate infrastructure for sanitation and hygiene.

The trend of urban poverty shows no signs of diminishing: about half of the world's population currently lives in urban areas, a figure that is expected to rise to two-thirds by 2030, Klevby said.

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