Sustainable Development Goals are leaving behind shared sanitation

Sustainable Development Goals are leaving behind shared sanitation. by Kimberly Pugel, IRC Blog, August 2017.

Political drivers, including SDG indicators, directly impact sanitation efforts on the ground.

Here we look at shared sanitation at the national, district, and household levels in Ethiopia, and why it should not be overlooked by the SDGs.

Behind a newly-erected corrugated metal fence in kebele (sub-district) #03 of Woliso woreda (district), Ethiopia, stands a sturdy cement building painted deep green. Located in a densely-populated area, its dark exterior provides a striking contrast to the enclave of brightly coloured houses surrounding it.

Yirgalem Zewude proudly manages the public latrine and shower (shown) in addition to her neighbourhood’s communal latrine. Managing a public latrine requires more time, money, and planning than a communal latrine.

Yirgalem Zewude proudly manages the public latrine and shower (shown) in addition to her neighbourhood’s communal latrine. Managing a public latrine requires more time, money, and planning than a communal latrine.

The building’s six separate doors lead to clean, recently-emptied latrine pits. Standing in front of it, it was so clearly well-maintained that I thought it had just been built. But I learned that Yirgalem Zewude, a local resident, has actually been managing this communal latrine for over 10 years.

Shared latrines like these are often the only viable way to provide sanitation services in areas where housing and people are so densely packed together; they can also be managed safely and sustainably.

However, the indicators published in the newly released Sustainable Development Goals Baseline Report by the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation by WHO and UNICEF do not count improved facilities as “basic” if they are shared between more than two households.

Read the complete article.


One response to “Sustainable Development Goals are leaving behind shared sanitation

  1. Marianathan Silvester

    Reforming Sanitation Systems and Policies
    It is a shame and curse that the real needs of a result-focused sustainable sanitation solutions have not been established even after two decades of framing our MDGs and now the SDGs. Sanitation should ensure health improvement. This means the poor people should be enabled to have nothing less than a proper and affordable toilet to practice Sanitation, not only that but also the other conveniences for practicing sanitation such as the water needs, safety, wastage of time, FSM etc. should also have proper solutions to make this practice sustainable. This is because having a toilet and not having water, or everyday long waiting in the queue and paying or the struggle for periodic emptying of septic etc. shall tempt the people to opt for open defecation. Establishing such a system to fulfill the above is the fundamental requirement of Sanitation and it is like the foundation to a building. Frankly, we have not established such a system until now and we are building multi-story building of multimillion Sanitation Programs without having the above said foundation.
    Now a day, Sanitation coverage is measured by fake measures of ODF status, no matter whether it is deteriorating the health conditions of poor and ruining their lives. Almost 95-100% of sanitation programs executed all over the world are promoting the Open Pit Latrines. To practice Sanitation in these Open Pit Latrines, one has to undergo the agony of sitting right over the nasty shit right beneath, breath the fainting smell and bear the swirling flies swamping around. Health improvement and human dignity are simply out of question, these latrines are rather the burial grounds of health. They are not only affecting the individual households but also the whole community in the surroundings. These pit latrines are built by forcing the people by playing the ‘community led tricks’ and whole system vanishes when the enforcement is lifted and people get back to their old system of open defecation to get relief from these nasty pit latrines, thus the sustainability is also out of question.
    The shocking fact is that these pit latrines are officially approved for promotion in the sanitation programs by international authoritative organizations. If the argument is that it is cheaper, it is not convincing since we can still build proper latrines with a cost comparable. If the argument is that they do not require water, it is also not convincing since there are several technical options to fulfill this requirement. Thus there are several useful options to have proper and affordable sanitation systems to save the poor from these nasty pit latrines. The failure to identify such options has made the sanitation to this miserable situation and this will continue unless we decide to reform sanitation.
    What all we need are a toilet system which is affordable with costs comparable to the pit latrines, this toilet should be pleasant to use, should have provisions that doesn’t require buckets of water (and waste fresh water) and there should be no worry about periodic emptying of septic. If we are able to provide such a toilet system, there is no need to go after people with multimillion Dollar campaigns to promote sanitation; sanitation shall make its own momentum towards SDGs. It is not hard to design and establish such a system. The scientists and technologists can deliver several of such systems; only thing is the sanitation authorities should have willingness to accept innovations and make some efforts to get them done. For that matter we at Sanitec, Madagascar can swear to provide such systems, not one or two, but at least half a dozen of them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s