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International Year of Sanitation 2008

Duncan Mara's Sanitation blog

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IYS 2008
launched on 21 November 2007:
details here  watch here   UNICEF video here

"Adequate sanitation is the most effective public health intervention the international community has at its disposal. Yet 40% of the world’s population still lacks access to a toilet. It is time for toilets and sewage disposal systems to be taken more seriously, not just by governments and civil society, but also by funding bodies and the global health community" (Editorial, The Lancet, 10November 2007).

The MDG Sanitation Target  excerpt from the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002 − the Johannesburg Summit, pp. 4−5:
“The provision of clean drinking water and adequate sanitation is necessary to protect human health and the environment. In this respect, we agree to halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water (as outlined in the Millennium Declaration) and the proportion of people who do not have access to basic sanitation, which would include actions at all levels to:
   (a) Develop and implement efficient household sanitation systems;
   (b) Improve sanitation in public institutions, especially schools;
   (c) Promote safe hygiene practices;
   (d) Promote education and outreach focused on children, as agents of
          behavioural change;
   (e) Promote affordable and socially and culturally acceptable technologies
          and practices;
   (f)  Develop innovative financing and partnership mechanisms;
   (g) Integrate sanitation into water resources management strategies.”

Where we are now: Sanitation coverage in 1990 and 2004 in developing countries (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme)

        Numbers with & without sanitation
Numbers of people with and without sanitation (WHO/UNICEF)

Progress towards achieving the MDGs:
Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children − Statistical Review No. 6 (UNICEF, 2007)
See the progress
made towards achieving the MDG 7 water supply target here and sanitation target here.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation on 4 December 2006 (read the Declaration here) − so there hasn't been much time for planning! 
The IYS 2008 Declaration is based on the Hashimoto Action Plan (March 2006) 
Quote: Without radical change, we will not achieve the MDG sanitation target.
Global urban public health depends just as much on sanitation as it does on water − a critical assessment of the 2006 Hashimoto Action Plan for the United Nations (APHA, 2007)
Quote from The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006 (p.18): With half of developing country populations still lacking basic sanitation, the world is unlikely  to reach its [MDG sanitation] target.
UN Secretary General’s message for World Water Day 2008, which was on Sanitation. Quote: Experts predict that, by 2015, 2.1 billion people will still lack basic sanitation. At the present rate, sub-Saharan Africa will not reach the [MDG sanitation] target until 2076. And the main reason? Lack of political will.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs is “in charge” − see what it has to say here.
Main UN webpage for IYS 2008 − see also its Sanitation Library.
There’s also the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation − see what it has to say here (and be amazed by the paucity of information it has in its on-line 'Biblioteca' on sanitation technology).  UNSGAB's objectives for IYS.  See also UNICEF's video of UNSGAB's meeting on 7 May 2007.

Webpage: UN-Water Task Force on Sanitation

The Lancet consistently speaks out for sanitation:
How to prevent a tenth of the global disease burden (The Lancet, 28 June 2008) − listen here. 
Keeping sanitation in the international spotlight (The Lancet, 29 March 2008)
Access to toilets for all and A clarion call for greater investment in global sanitation (The Lancet, 10 November 2007)
Water and sanitation: the neglected health MDG (The Lancet, 7 October 2006)
Watching the world wash its hands of sanitation (The Lancet Infectious Diseases, October 2006)
Focusing on improved water and sanitation for health (The Lancet, 26 February 2005)
Clean water alone cannot prevent disease (The Lancet, 4 September 2004)

Sanitation and hygiene: approaches for sustainable development (Jon Lane, WSSCC, 2007) Quote: At present, about half the planet is clean and about half is, literally, shitty: covered in millions of tons of shit annually by people who lack the dignity and convenience of basic sanitation facilities. This is a world of two halves, a job half-done. Half the world's people have sanitation (collection, transport, treatment and disposal or re-use of human excreta, domestic wastewater and solid waste and associated hygiene promotion) and half do not even have basic sanitation (disposal of human excreta).

The great promise of the International Year of Sanitation (Jon Lane in Waterlines, October 2008)

Sanitation needs in Africa − a vast amount of work to be done!
Africa and the Millennium Development Goals: 2007 Update (UN, 2007)
Quote: Only 42 per cent of people in rural areas had access to clean water, according to the latest 2004 data, and 63 per cent of the entire population lacked access to basic sanitation facilities – down only barely from 68 per cent in 1990, and far from the target of cutting this proportion in half by 2015.

UN Commission on Sustainable Development (13th session, 2005): 
Sanitation: Policy Options and Possible Actions to Expedite Implementation  
UN Commission on Sustainable Development (12th session, 2004): 
Sanitation: Progress in meeting the goals, targets and commitments of Agenda 21, the Programme for
the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation

          Global Sanitation Fund (WSSCC webpage)

History of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s involvement in the study of Sanitation issues

Read the Declarations of the Regional Sanitation Conferences

Video clip: Sanitation for the developing world (Reuters/WaterAid, 2008) − also here.

          Video: Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation (Clinton Global Initiative, 2008) − 60 minutes!

Quiz: What do you know about sanitation? (World Bank, 2008)

          IYS 2008 websites:  World Health Organization   World Water Council   WEDC
                                               IRC International Water & Sanitation Centre
                                               German Toilet Organization  
                                               Sanitation in the News − IYS 2008 (Environmental Health/USAID)

          UK Parliament: House of Commons 'Early Day Motion' on IYS 2008 (12 March 2007)

How many days left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals? Check here.


These are very approximately US$ 2442 billion, or US$ 1.6−2.8 billion per year for each of the 15 years of 2001−2015.  Details here (from the abridged version of Health, Dignity, and Development: What will it Take? the report of the UN Millennium Development Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation, 2006).  

See Global costs of attaining the Millennium Development Goal for water supply and sanitation (Bulletin WHO, 2008) which reports very much higher costs.

Every dollar spent on sanitation brings much greater benefits − see:
Benefit-cost ratios for sanitation interventions

Is the World short of money?

Quote from Richard Feachem in 2004 (Public Health 118 (7), 477-479) who was then referring to the $2−8 billion per year needed for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria. What what he says applies to Sanitation just as well.

"Some people say that these numbers are too large and are over ambitious.  One has to ask too large compared to what? Too large compared to the $70−80 billion to be spent this year in Iraq and Afghanistan? Too large in relation to the $350 billion that the EU and USA spend in subsidizing their farmers in order that they can compete unfairly with the farmers of the developing world?  Too much in relation to the $1.5 trillion that those who live in the USA will spend on their own health in 2004? ... I do not think so!" 

See also: More money than sense (Economist, 2007)

Essential reading for IYS2008
In addition to the reports etc. linked to on this page, the
Ten Key WatSan Documents page, and the Unserved Billions page, click here for more IYS2008 essential reading and links to other pages on this site.

If we do nothing or too little too late, then things won't change much: 
scavengers will still have to service other people's toilets (also here and here),
Kibera slum in Nairobi will stay much the same. 

In good company!
International Year of Languages 2008
International Year of Planet Earth 2008
International Year of the Potato 2008
International Year of the Reef 2008
International Polar Year 2007−2008 (actually March 2007 − March 2009)
2008 is also the Year of the Frog − not entirely inappropriate as the men in Tanzania who plunge naked into latrine pits to desludge them are called “vyura” (Swahili for frogs)!

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