“Transformational Benefits” of Ending Outdoor Defecation

We realised that if issues around social justice had to be taken to scale, and if we wanted to create deeper impact,we needed to involve the communities affected.

A Dalit woman stands outside a dry toilet located in an upper
caste villager’s home in Mainpuri, in the northern Indian state
of Uttar Pradesh. Credit: Shai Venkatraman/IPS

By External Source
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 18 2019 (IPS)

Ending the practice of defecating in the open, rather than in a
toilet, will have “transformational benefits” for some of the
world’s most vulnerable people, says the UN’s partner
sanitation body, the WSSCC (Water Supply and Sanitation
Collaborative Council).

Ahead of World
Toilet Day
, which is marked annually on 19 November, WSSCC’s
acting Executive Director, Sue Coates, has been speaking to UN News
about how to end open defecation.

 

What is open defecation and where is it mostly
practiced?

Open defecation is when people defecate in the open – for
example, in fields, forests, bushes, lakes and rivers – rather
than using a toilet. Globally, the practice is decreasing steadily,
however its elimination by 2030, one of the targets of the
Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) requires a substantial
acceleration in toilet use particularly in Central and Southern
Asia, Eastern and Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Poor sanitation and hygiene practices (for example, not
handwashing with soap after defecation and before eating)
contribute to over 800,000 deaths from diarrhoea annually,
according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

UN agencies report that of the 673 million people practicing open
defecation, 91 per cent live in rural areas. An increase in
population in countries including Nigeria, Tanzania, Madagascar and
Niger, but also in some Oceania states, is leading to localized
growth in open defecation.

 

Why is open defecation such a serious
problem?

Open defecation is an affront to the dignity, health and
well-being, especially of girls and women. For example, hundreds of
millions of girls and women around the world lack privacy when they
are menstruating. Open defecation also risks exposing them to
increased sexual exploitation and personal safety and is a risk to
public health.

According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one gram of faeces can
contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria and one thousand
parasite cysts. Poor sanitation and hygiene practices (for example,
not handwashing with soap after defecation and before eating)
contribute to over 800,000 deaths from diarrhoea annually,
according to the World Health Organization (WHO): that’s more people than who
die from malaria.

 

Why has it been so difficult to stop it?

Open defecation has been practiced for centuries; it is an
ingrained cultural norm in some societies. Stopping it requires a
sustained shift in the behaviour of whole communities so that a new
norm, toilet use by all, is created and accepted. Ending open
defecation requires an ongoing investment in the construction,
maintenance and use of latrines, and other basic services.

 

How are people’s lives improved once they have a
toilet to use?

On a day-to-day basis, the ability to use a toilet – at home
and work, and in public places such as schools, health centres and
markets – is a basic human right. Sanitation has transformational
benefits supporting aspects of quality of life, equity and dignity
for all people.

 

To what extent is sanitation a central part of overall
development?

A lack of at least basic sanitation and hygiene services,
including a lack of informed choice about menstrual health and
hygiene, is a violation of the human rights to water and
sanitation, as well as the rights to health, work, adequate
standard of living, non-discrimination, human dignity, protection,
information, and participation.


WHO and UNICEF report
that in 2016, 21 per cent of healthcare
facilities globally had no sanitation service, directly impacting
more than 1.5 billion people, and over 620 million children
worldwide lacked basic sanitation services at their school.

WHO estimates that every $1 invested in water and toilets
returns an average of US $4 in saved medical costs, averted deaths
and increased productivity. Hygiene promotion is also ranked as one
of the most cost-effective public health interventions. Conversely,
a lack of sanitation holds back economic growth.

 

How is the UN contributing to ending open
defecation?

Member States and UN agencies are committed to ending open
defecation and have urged the provision of financial resources,
capacity-building and technology transfer to help developing
countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable
drinking water and sanitation for all.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), on clean
water and sanitation, requires access to adequate and equitable
sanitation and hygiene for all, and an end to open defecation, with
special attention paid to the needs of women and girls, and those
in vulnerable situations.

Increasingly, governments and their UN agency partners have
roadmaps to tackle the issue, and WSSCC has been providing grants
for community-based solutions for a decade. However, the SDG target
is not on track.

It’s estimated that the global annual cost for providing even
basic sanitation services is   $19.5 billion, but right now not
enough funding is forthcoming. The UN
Sustainable Development Goals
Report in 2019 warns that while
progress is being made in many SDG areas, the collective global
response is not enough, leaving the most vulnerable
people
and countries to suffer the most.

This story was originally published by UN
News

The post
“Transformational Benefits” of Ending Outdoor Defecation

appeared first on Inter Press
Service
.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
“Transformational Benefits” of Ending Outdoor Defecation