Over the past 12 months, the world has seen water in its extremes. In the same year, the City of Cape Town, announced “day zero,” the day on which it was predicted the city would run dry, and a million victims of massive flooding were evacuated from Kerala, India. Floods, droughts, infrastructure shortfalls, poor quality and poor water resources management all made global headlines. Countries are facing a new normal where water is either “too much, too little, or too polluted.”
Martin Gambrill, Lead Water Supply & Sanitation Specialist, World Bank
Rebecca Jean Gilsdorf, Water Supply & Sanitation Specialist, World Bank
Ndeye Awa Diagne, Young Professional, World Bank
Today when you go to the toilet, be it in someone’s basic latrine in a rural village you might be visiting, in a public toilet where you work, or on a comfortable water-flushed ‘loo’ at home, take a moment to think about those not as fortunate as yourself.
As you sit (or squat) and contemplate, consider these three hard truths about sanitation:
Ms. Tettey wakes her children up at 3.30 am every morning to be able to make it to the front of the line at the nearest public toilet block, located about 150 meters from her house in Accra’s La Dade Kotopon Municipal Assembly. Like many residents of low-income informal settlements in Greater Accra, the Tettey family rents a single room in a compound house with about ten other families. The 2008 Ghana Living Standards Survey reports that 79% of Ghanaians live in compound houses consisting of several households built around a common open area or yard that share basic utilities like water, electricity and sanitation, where available. The use of shared toilets was the only alternative the Tetteh family had to open defecation when at home. During the day, the adults tried to take advantage of the public toilets near the market where Mrs. Tettey works, and the children were encouraged to use the toilets at their school before coming home. The Tetteys are among the 80 percent of Ghana’s population that lack access to ‘improved’ or safely managed sanitation.
An improved sanitation facility is defined as one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) currently exclude shared toilets from their definition of safely managed sanitation. Likewise, to meet the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP)’s definition of improved sanitation, toilets must be used by only one household, and they should meet certain design standards that prevent human contact with faeces. These definitions are driven by concerns that an increased number of users, among other factors, reduces the overall levels of hygiene and cleanliness of facilities and decreases their safety, thereby limiting access for women, children, and the elderly, and precluding achievement of the health, social and environmental benefits of having adequate sanitation.
- Osama Hamad, Lead Water Supply & Sanitation Specialist, World Bank Water Global Practice
- Heba Yaken Aref Ahmed, Operations Analyst, World Bank Water Global Practice
- Sara Mohamed Mahmoud Aly Soliman, Consultant, World Bank Water Global Practice
In a rural area about 60 miles north of Cairo lies the town of Toukh El Aqlam, situated on Egypt’s busy Cairo-Alexandria agricultural road. The region has long-suffered from a lack of sanitation services, creating a serious impact on the health and social development of its inhabitants. On October 16th, 2018, the World Bank’s Program for Results (PforR) team and representatives from Egypt’s Ministry of Housing visited Toukh El Aqlam, where 30,000 citizens now benefit from 5,000 new sanitation connections in rural Dakahliya governorate.
The Dakahliya Water and Sanitation Company (WSC) is one of three WSCs participating in the World Bank-supported Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Program (SRSSP), along with Beheira and Sharkiya. Approved by the Bank in July 2015, the Program is already delivering results on the ground in its efforts to achieve sustainable access to sanitation services, reduce water pollution in the Nile Delta, and improve water sector governance.
Magnificent. Splendid. That was the only way to describe the intricate web of waterways, bridges, road, and rail transport that we gazed out on as our bus transported us from Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, to our hotel. The learning from our Knowledge Exchange had started even before the event had officially begun! All along our winding drive, the infrastructure on display demonstrated an appreciation and understanding of the importance of working with, rather than against, nature. Green Growth, they call it.
It was an apt introduction. That’s because the Korean Green Growth Trust Fund, in collaboration with the World Bank Water Global Practice, had organized a Knowledge Exchange event that would focus on water-related issues; how to mainstream green growth concepts in water resource management; and water and sanitation service provision.
The global water crisis is a crisis of too much, too polluted and too little. At the World Bank, our job is to find and implement solutions to tackle this crisis. In the “Water Solutions” blog series, you’ll read about World Bank-supported projects in different countries which demonstrated solutions to the world’s most pressing water issues, to fulfill our vision for a water-secure world.
It is rainy season again in the Philippines, and typhoons and tropical storms are hitting the country again at regular intervals. The worst such event this year so far in Metro Manila occurred the weekend of August 11-12, when Tropical Storm Karding (international name Yagi) brought excessive monsoon rains and submerged large areas of Metro Manila, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuation centers. It was not just the rains that caused the severe flooding as solid waste was equally to blame. Many waterways and drains are clogged with solid waste, which does not allow water to freely flow to outlets and pumping stations.
In our previous blog, we looked at how water and sanitation came to be recognized as a human right, and what that means in practice. Today, we look at how formal and informal institutional practices influence the realization of the right to water and sanitation, as well as how the World Bank is contributing towards solutions through the WASH Poverty Diagnostic.
The water and sanitation sector includes and relies on a vast array of institutions – from village water committees to urban utilities, health extension workers to ministries of health, and community irrigation associations to river basin offices. Helping build the capacity of and roles played by these institutions is a critical element of the Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) to water and sanitation. Formal and informal institutions influence the way in which WASH access-expansion programs are designed, planned, funded, implemented, and monitored. As such, they play fundamental roles in delivering water and sanitation for all.
It may have taken decades, but access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is now firmly recognized as a human right. How did this happen? What does it mean in practice? And how can it help the rural poor gain access?
In July of 2010, the United Nations General Assembly “explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights” in Resolution A/RES/64/292. Despite these commitments, investments to date have largely proved insufficient to guarantee universal access. Today, 844 million people lack access to safe drinking water, and more than twice that number (2.3 billion) do not have access to adequate sanitation. Take the example of Mozambique. New World Bank research, the ‘WASH Poverty Diagnostic’, reveals that access to improved water on premises could be as low as 32 percent in rural areas, and as high as 69 percent in urban areas. The research finds that inequitable access is due to poor governance and lack of specific attention to the poor and vulnerable; not only it is a matter of life and death, water and sanitation are basic rights.
Perhaps one of the most exciting developments coming out of the SIWI World Water Week in Stockholm at the end of August was the large number of sessions and debates around the financing issue. In essence, the discussion on how we will collectively raise enough funds to close the financing gap was prominent in many discussions.
It is worth noting that some progress has been made. The issue is now prominent in all the major policy discussions with stakeholders. There is an acknowledgement that domestic finance, rather than international resources, are key to addressing the issue.