Saturday, November 03, 2007

UN doing something right for a change

Sanitation for All the Goal at World Toilet Summit

Though it includes such ideas as a solar-powered commode that runs without water, the 2007 World Toilet Summit is no bathroom novelty show.

Participants at New Delhi's four-day gathering of experts, toilet aficionados, and even royalty from 44 countries are grappling with health and sanitation issues that endanger almost one-third of the world's people who don't have toilets.

The United Nations estimates there are some 2.6 billion people without access to basic sanitation, over half living in India and China, a stark reminder of the challenges facing these developing nations despite their recent rampant economic growth.

"In India there are 700 million people who do not have access to safe and hygienic toilets. The waterborne diseases this causes kill 500,000 children every year, mostly from diarrhea," said Bindeshwar Pathak, the head of the Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement.

The theme of the seventh annual toilet summit — co-hosted by Pathak's group, the Indian government and the Singapore-based World Toilet Organization — is reaching the U.N.'s goal of halving the number of people living without water and sanitation by 2015.

One new technology being touted for areas with limited water is a waterless toilet produced by African Sanitation. Using solar heat and a bit of biomass -- such as shredded grass clippings -- the toilets convert waste into oderless compost.


Anonymous said...

Poor sanitation is definitely one of the leading causes of illness and resulting death in the third world countries. Hopefully bringing new innovations which work with the habit and are cost-effective will bring better sanitation and less illnesses and deaths.

Christina Dunigan said...

This is a big passion of mine. Our little church is raising money to donate a well through Mercy Ships to a village without clean water. Mercy Ships doesn't just dig the well -- they teach the local people how to select a site and build a sanitary latrine to keep their water safe, and they teach them how to maintain the well. So the village gets permanent, maintainable sanitation and potable water. Yay!