FEATURE STORY November 19, 2018

On World Toilet Day, Let’s Talk Toilets

On World Toilet Day, spare a thought for the millions around the world who lack this most basic of services; think about the negative impact this ongoing sanitation crisis is having on public health, on human capital, on the environment and, ultimately, on the economy; and join us in creating a world where everyone has access to safely managed sanitation!

World Bank Group


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • World Toilet Day is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the urgent actions needed to achieve adequate and equitable sanitation for all by 2030.
  • To help make “sanitation for all” a reality, we need to promote and scale up innovative approaches to service delivery and to financing models.
  • To advance the sanitation agenda, we are working closely with partners, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A new partnership with the Gates Foundation – Urban Sanitation Innovation Partnership – was announced by President Jim Kim during the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing.

If you have a toilet or a latrine at home, you are luckier than the 2.3 billion people around the world who still lack access to this most basic of amenities. If you have a toilet that is linked to a system that safely conveys, treats and disposes of your household’s waste, you are luckier than the 4.5 billion people who do not have “safely managed sanitation.”

World Toilet Day is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the urgent actions needed to achieve adequate and equitable sanitation for all by 2030. Today, only 68 percent of the world’s population has access to basic sanitation and only 39 percent benefits from safely managed sanitation. 

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 Sanitation is critical to health, economic growth and the environment. Investing in sanitation is about preventing needless deaths and transforming lives. In total, around 1.6 million people die every year due to poor sanitation and hygiene – that’s more than 4,500 people every day, or around 200 people dying each hour of each day. The World Bank’s Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Poverty Diagnostics, conducted in 18 countries around the world, show that it’s poor children who suffer most from inadequate sanitation, which in turn deprives children of the opportunities they deserve in life. Intestinal diseases related to poor sanitation, along with malnutrition and infections, also contribute to stunting, which is shown to be linked to adverse long-term educational and economic opportunities. The economic impacts from a lack of sanitation on health and mortality are compounded by negative impacts on the environment, and ultimately, on economic growth. The total global costs of inadequate sanitation are estimated at US$260 billion per year or, on average, 1.5 percent of a country’s GDP.



So, what can we do to help make “sanitation for all” a reality?

Business as usual” in sanitation, in which we only focus on conventional sewerage networks and wastewater treatment plants for the formal areas of cities, will not allow us to reach the SDG sanitation targets. We need to shift mindsets in order to embrace approaches in which everybody benefits from adequate service delivery outcomes, where human waste is safely managed along the whole sanitation service chain, effective resource recovery and re-use are considered, a diversity of technical solutions are embraced, combining both onsite sanitation and sewerage solutions, and new and creative ways of funding sanitation are identified – all to help better respond to the realities faced in cities around the world. Furthermore, we need to realize that good sanitation systems are assets which can also create jobs, generate electricity, capture methane, and produce valuable fertilizers for our crops.

We need to promote and scale up innovative approaches to service delivery and to financing models, as demonstrated in the following examples from World Bank operations.

●        In Ethiopia, a USD $500 million project covering 23 cities is supporting a mix of sewered and onsite solutions, exploring new ways of engaging the private sector, and aiming to expand sanitation services to an additional 2.5 million people.

●        In China, under the Nanning Urban Environment Project, all the sludge produced by the wastewater treatment plants is treated in an innovative facility that produces fertilizer for local use in forests, eucalyptus farming and as a soil improvement agent.

●        In Egypt, the US$550 million Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Program for Results (results based financing program) is enhancing access to sanitation services for 1.7 million poor people in small towns and creating channels for citizens to engage with their service providers while addressing the pollution of the Nile from untreated sewage.

●        In Ghana, a multifaceted sanitation intervention is tackling the challenges of sanitation in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area. This project includes subsidies for poor households to buy toilet facilities, construction of a new fecal sludge treatment plant, engagement with private sector financial institutions to encourage creation of loan products for household sanitation, sanitation marketing, mobile money platforms for households to save towards the cost of a toilet, and support to local private contractors to build their capacity to deliver toilets at larger scales.

At the World Bank, we have also made it a priority to learn from innovators and service providers in the urban sanitation sector by spreading good practices from one side of the world to the other. To advance the sanitation agenda, we are working closely with key development partners, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As announced on November 6 by President Jim Kim during the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, a new partnership with the Gates Foundation, the Urban Sanitation Innovation Partnershipaims to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies and approaches so that everyone has access to safely managed and affordable sanitation services.

This new partnership builds on commitments from the World Bank , the Gates Foundation and other key development partners to support Citywide Inclusive Sanitation "  which promotes innovations in urban sanitation through a mix of service delivery solutions and improvements in the enabling environment – with a focus on services for poor households.


So, on November 19, spare a thought for the millions around the world who lack this most basic of services; think about the negative impact this ongoing sanitation crisis is having on public health, on human capital, on the environment and, ultimately, on the economy; and join us in creating a world where everyone has access to safely managed sanitation!

Join Us: 

  1. Follow @WorldBankWater via #WorldToiletDay and #InclusiveSanitation
  2. Join a live discussion on www.facebook.com/worldbank with Bill Kingdom, Lead Water Supply & Sanitation Specialist, and Ndeye Awa Diagne, a Young Professional with the World Bank’s sanitation team, who will be talking about their passion for toilets. 
  3. Watch and share a series of video messages in various languages from our staff around the world about why sanitation matters.

#WorldToiletDay @WorldBankWater