The difference that toilets and sanitation can make
Why is the theme of World Toilet Day 2021 about valuing toilets? It’s because toilets and sanitation systems are today underfunded and neglected in many parts of the world. In fact, 3.6 billion people live without access to safely managed sanitation. According to the United Nations, a massive investment in sanitation is needed in order to provide water and sanitation to all by 2030.
World Toilet Day, which has been an annual United Nations Observance since 2013, is about raising awareness of the global sanitation crisis. The lack of safely managed sanitation has devastating consequences for health, economics and the environment, particularly in the poorest and most marginalized communities.
According to the United Nations, the world is seriously off track to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030. To meet the goal in time, governments must quadruple their investments all along the sanitation chain, from toilets to the transport, collection and treatment of human waste.
Investing in toilets and sanitation to enrich lives
Toilets are not just about sanitation. They lead to improvements in gender equality, education, economics and the environment. For example, every $1 invested in basic sanitation returns up to $5 in saved medical costs and increased productivity, and jobs are created along the entire service chain. For woman and girls, toilets at home, school and work help them continue their education and participate in the workforce, enabling them to play a fuller role in society.
“Access to clean water and sanitation is a foundational building block to healthy lives, communities and economies,” says Austin Alexander, Vice President, Sustainability and Social Impact at Xylem. “World Toilet Day is about raising awareness for something many of us can take for granted. It’s about raising awareness of how clean water and efficient, reliable sanitation can change lives. At Xylem, we believe that solving water and sanitation challenges is essential to creating a more sustainable, equitable world.”
Xylem Watermark’s partnerships to improve sanitation
Xylem Watermark, Xylem’s corporate social responsibility program, works with nonprofit partners to deliver water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education and improve WASH infrastructure in health facilities and communities around the world.
To date, Xylem Watermark has educated 3.9 million people about WASH and the value of water, as well as provided water and sanitation solutions to 4.7 million people. For example, in partnership with Americares, the health-focused relief and development organization, Xylem has improved sanitation access in hospitals and health centers across several continents.
In the Dominican Republic, during the height of COVID-19, Xylem partnered with Americares to rehabilitate the WASH infrastructure, including bathroom facilities, in four health centers in areas hit hardest by the pandemic, creating a safer environment for health workers and patients.
In Liberia, lack of access to a functioning incinerator at Liberia Government Hospital led to the burning of biological waste in an open pit. This produced toxic smoke and ashes that polluted the air and contaminated the shallow water table. Xylem supported the building of a new incinerator and waste-holding building, which now help ensure safe sanitation and waste management operations at the hospital and a more hygienic environment for patients and health workers.
And in the Philippines, Americares and Xylem have supported numerous local health centers to overhaul and improve their sanitation systems, including transitioning from soak-away pits to more hygienic septic systems. As a result, patients and healthcare workers are now able to access adequate sanitation facilities without concern for their health and safety.
Learn more about World Toilet Day: http://www.worldtoiletday.info
Learn more about Xylem Watermark: https://www.xylem.com/en-us/watermark/
Photo credit: Americares