Sunday, November 18, 2007

UN Millennium Goals Update: Sanitation is Another Vital Factor in the Shift to a Vibrant Green World

Image: UN Millennium Goals

UN Millennium Goals Update: Sanitation is Another Vital Factor in the Shift to a Vibrant Green World

By Richard Power

There is so much we take for granted.

Somalis are struggling to keep their families alive on ten liters of water a day, approximately "the same amount used to flush a toilet in an industrialized nation." (One World, 11-9-07)

But even in the developed countries, especially in the USA, water itself has already become a serious issue; and soon, sanitation, too, will be acknowledged as a serious issue.

Throughout the world, rapid and meaningful change is required.

Sustainable sanitation models must be provided for those who have nothing.

And those in the developed world who have lived as if there were was no consequences must shift to sustainable models as well.

To meet one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and halve the number of people without basic sanitation by 2015, the world must make a radical shift away from septic tanks and sewers, say experts and activists.
Gathering in New Delhi for the just concluded four-day World Toilet Summit (WTS)-2007, 400 sanitation experts from 44 countries agreed that they needed to work harder on designing toilets that suited the developing world and looked beyond ‘disposal oriented’ western systems. ...
‘’You cannot achieve the MDGs with sewers and septic tanks,’’ Pathak told IPS. ‘’Sewers need expensive infrastructure, high maintenance and large quantities of water to be effective.’’ ...
The U.N.-Habitat has recognised Sulabh’s cost-effective and appropriate sanitation system as a ‘Global Urban Best Practice’. The twin-pit system uses 1.5-2 litres of water per use in a flush toilet that is connected to two pits that allows recharging of the soil and composting, and a close-loop public toilet system attached to a bio-gas digester.
In fact, this is the only sanitation technology that meets the seven conditions for a sanitary latrine laid down by the World Health Organisation. These stipulate that a sanitary latrine should not contaminate surface soil, ground water or surface water. Excreta should not be accessible to flies or animals. There should be no handling of fresh excreta, or when this is unavoidable, kept to a bare minimum. There should be no odour or unsightliness and the methods used should be simple and inexpensive in construction and operation. "This is an on-site sanitation technology that can be implemented anywhere," Pathak said. ...
Globally 2.6 billion people, or one in three persons, lack access to proper sanitation, says the UNICEF/WHO mid-term review report on MDGs. More than half of them live in India and China. Africa and Latin America are the other regions that are lagging behind.
Aparna Srivastava Reddy, ENVIRONMENT: Sanitation Beyond Septic Tanks and Sewers
By Aparna Srivastava Reddy, Inter Press Service, 11-6-07

Improvements in sanitation and sewerage systems can have a dramatic effect on reducing cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases, research has shown. The study, co-funded by the Wellcome Trust, has led scientists to call for action to improve urban sanitation as an effective way of improving health in developing countries.
According to the WHO, the number of cholera cases during 2006 was 236,896, with 6,311 deaths in 52 countries, a rise of 79% on the previous year. The importance of sanitation in preventing cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases was recognised in the Millennium Development Goals, which set a target of halving the number of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015. However, this target is unlikely to be achieved because the resources allocated to it are small. Part of the reason for this neglect of sanitation is the absence of rigorous evidence for its effectiveness in prevention of disease.
Now, in research published in the journal The Lancet, Professor Mauricio Barreto and colleagues from the Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil, have shown that urban sanitation is a highly effective health measure.
In 1997, the city of Salvador in Brazil implemented a city-wide sanitation project, known as Bahia Azul, or Blue Bay. Its objective was to increase the number of households with an adequate sewer system from 26% to 80%, including extending the sewerage network, improving water supply and capacity-building in ten smaller towns in the state. ... The researchers found that overall prevalence of diarrhoea fell by 22%. However, in high-risk areas, where sanitary conditions were poorest, overall prevalence fell by double this amount, down 43%...
Science Daily, 11-10-07

For a directory of Words of Power UN Millennium Goals Updates, click here.

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