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For immediate release – August 2017

Discounting shared sanitation in the push for Sustainable Development risks leaving the poorest settlements behind: new Open Access editorial

  • WaterAid, WSUP, World Bank and leading academics have collaborated to provide a new Open Access editorial on the importance of including shared sanitation in efforts to meet SDG6

  • Donors, policymakers and planners are urged to invest in safely managed shared toilets in settlements where this is the most viable option for improved sanitation

The 6th UN Sustainable Development Goal aims for access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. The aspired standard includes a toilet in every household and proper treatment of waste, greatly reducing risk to human health or the environment. However, senior economists and policy analysts warn that focusing on improving existing systems to this standard risks overlooking the poorest populations who do not yet have basic access to sanitation.

To address this issue, IWA Publishing are hosting an Open Access editorial in the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development which brings together authors from the World Bank, WaterAid, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor, and leading academics from the University of Leeds and the University of Colorado – Boulder.  Whilst shared sanitation is classified as a “limited” service, the authors urge governments, policymakers and donors to see how high-quality shared toilets can play a crucial role in dense informal settlements. In areas where a toilet per household is simply not a viable option, investment in shared sanitation is a step towards improved health and dignity for vulnerable populations.

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WaterAid senior policy analyst Andrés Hueso:

“We know that in this globalised world, one slum’s waste problem quickly becomes a much wider issue, as demonstrated during the crises of Ebola and Zika, both of which were exacerbated due to poor sanitation.

“Everyone everywhere deserves a safe, private toilet. But we know that for densely populated slums, where large families may live in single rooms and private toilets are simply not yet an option, well-designed and well-managed shared sanitation provides an essential stepping stone to dignity and better health.”

Senior World Bank economist Sophie Trémolet:

 “Despite the fact that shared toilets are not currently counted as safely managed toilets in the SDG framework, we need to maintain incentives for governments, entrepreneurs and communities to invent, invest in and run appropriate shared toilet solutions as a stepping stone towards other solutions. We also need to work on developing practical ways to distinguish well-managed shared toilets from those which simply do not pass the mark. Some isolated initiatives have sprung up, such as EcoTact or Freshlife toilets in Kenya run by aspiring young entrepreneurs. We need those to become mainstream and inspire other actors to turn uninspiring assets into symbols of modernity.”

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To read the editorial, please click here: https://doi.org/10.2166/washdev.2017.023

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About the Journal:

The Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the dissemination of high-quality information on the science, policy and practice of drinking-water supply, sanitation and hygiene at local, national and international levels. It emphasizes issues of concern in developing and middle-income countries and in disadvantaged communities world-wide.

Learn more about the journal here: http://washdev.iwaponline.com/

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