Toilets in focus for international sanitation goals

Posted 16 November 2016

World toilet dayAid groups are urging Australian water professionals to use World Toilet Day to reflect on how they can help achieve universal access to water and sanitation.

The United Nation's worldwide event, set for Saturday November 19, highlights the work the international community still needs to do, said WaterAid Australia Chief Executive Rosie Wheen.

“One of the most confronting realities is that almost 900 children die every day as a result of diarrhoea, which is caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation,” she said.

“So while it might seem a bit funny that there's a day to celebrate and think about toilets, it is no laughing matter for the 2.3 billion people around the world that don't have a toilet.”

Wheen noted that the new UN Sustainable Development Goals clearly charged all countries with responsibility for water sanitation and she said Australia has valuable knowledge to share.

“There are great opportunities for water industry professionals in Australia to partner with and help developing countries leap-frog the lessons that we've learned,” she said.

“That can be around water resource management, water scarcity, technologic innovations, tariff structures, regulations, roles and responsibilities.”

Leadership, awareness and a holistic approach are key to improving outcomes in developing countries, Wheen said.

“In Australia, as it is in other countries, it's not the most exciting topic to talk about, so the challenge is how to raise awareness in the countries we work in so that it's a priority,” she said.

“What WaterAid has found working with local partners and governments is you need a mix between public awareness and behaviour change, as well as the focus on hardware and technology.

“Then we need to work out what will work most successfully in the different contexts.”