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During her pitch, Dr Serena Caucci presents her work “The Large Benefits of Small Changes: The Tipping Point – Sanitation for the Mezquital Valley, Mexico.” In her speech, she informs the audience that poorly treated wastewater reaching the agricultural district of Mexico severely affects the ecosystem and the public health of the local communities. The power of public-private partnerships as a solution between locals, municipalities, and farmers for the provision of decentralised plants increases sanitation and promotes the local economy via the safe use of wastewater for the agro-system services of the Mezquital Region.
Sanitation feeds into nearly all the other Sustainable Development Goals through improving health, reducing child mortality and school absenteeism, and promoting gender empowerment. Ensuring access to safe sanitation promotes human equality and dignity that in turn will drive the participation of the poor to eliminate poverty. Thus, the achievement of this seemingly simple goal could hold the key to others as well. Yet, there are still a number of challenges.
There are still 2 billion people without access to a functioning toilet (World Health Organization 2019). Governments, public agencies, firms, and charities are working hard to build toilets for the poor. However, the dominant model of the low-cost toilet, the two-pit latrine model is not suitable for many regions such as coastal areas. Increase in sanitation coverage does not automatically guarantee usage or maintenance of toilets and many toilets lie unused. Problems of partially constructed toilets, lack of running water inside toilets, non-provision of handwashing facilities, defective construction of toilets, and non-maintenance of toilets are common problems noted in sanitation interventions. Indeed, because of such defects, in some instances, there has even been an increase in the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases after the construction of toilets. So, how are these challenges to be addressed? What have we learnt from the sanitation coverage drives of the past 20 years?
Come and listen to researchers pitching their ideas to address the big necessity on World Toilet Day!
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