From Green Car Congress:
Behind Food, Energy and Climate Crises Looms Water and Sanitation
|Modes of sanitation for the global population. Click to enlarge. Data: SIWI.|
The World Water Week in Stockholm concluded with 2,400 scientists, leaders from governments and civil society declaring that slow progress on sanitation will cause the world to badly fail the Millennium Development Goals while weak policy, poor management, increasing waste and exploding water demands are pushing the planet towards the tipping point of global water crisis.
This theme of the 2008 World Water Week was “Progress and prospects on water: for a clean and healthy world”. Eight workshops had two parallel directions. One set were sanitation-related and referred to safe handling of human excreta; the other related to water-carried pollutants and how to address water pollution abatement, wrote Professor Malin Falkenmark of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in a summary of the week.
The scale of the sanitation issue is “unbelievable” wrote Falkenmark. Out of a world population of 6.7 billion, only 1.1 billion have access to conventional sewage. Three billion use other types of toilets from pit latrines to poor flush/cess pits, while the remaining 2.6 billion use simple open defecation.
Why is sanitation so fundamental? Beyond human dignity and defecation security, the main reason is that human health critically depends on safe handling of human excreta—the origin of pathogen-related diseases. The disease link makes sanitation and hygiene nothing less than an imperative for any society to function properly.