Talking Toilets in Durban, South Africa on World Water Day

Date: 21st March 2017

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On March 22nd, WSSCC celebrated World Water Day in partnership with Global Citizen and the World Bank during a dynamic and interactive side event dedicated to sanitation and faecal sludge management at the pivotal World Water Day Summit and Expo in Durban, organized by UN Water and the Government of South Africa.

With wastewater as the theme for the 2017 World Water Day, the event was unique in its focus on the need for proper faecal sludge management systems for the 2.4 billion people around the world that lack proper access to sanitation and hygiene, and the 663 million people without access to clean water. The event addressed the need for adequately treating waste from toilets to prevent diseases and deaths as a result of contaminated water.

The event, “Toilet Talk: Bringing Millennials into the Sanitation Conversation,” celebrated the leadership of the government of South Africa and its role in the High Level Panel in Water in achieving global access to water and sanitation; and united the voices of millions of young Global Citizens around the world with the work of the High Level Panel on Water, policy makers, and businesses to achieve global access to water and sanitation, including waste treatment systems such as fecal sludge management, to end open defecation, and to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.

Speakers during the side event included Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; Patrick Verkooijen, Group Sherpa for the HLPW at the World Bank; Michael Sheldrick of Global Citizen and WSSCC member Dr. Bloodless Dzwairo, a Technical Expert and a Researcher at the Durban University of Technology. WSSCC’s Media and Public Affairs Officer Alison Bradley moderated the panel session.

“In honour of World Water Day, and considering South African president Jacob Zuma’s leadership on the High-Level Panel for Water, we are here to discuss the goal of achieving global access to safe water and sanitation by 2030, and the movement to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal,” said Radebe, who headlined the panel discussion.

At last year’s Global Citizen Festival in New York, Minister Radebe announced that South Africa aims to eliminate the practice of open defecation by 2030 or sooner, and intends to champion waste management in cities and workplaces around the world through South Africa’s leadership of the High-Level Panel on Water.

“Access to clean water and adequate sanitation is truly a key to opening the door for a more equitable, peaceful and prosperous world,” he said.

Patrick Verkooijen called for a massive public outcry on the importance of the sanitation and hygiene, and discussed the importance of addressing broader issues around water and toilets, such as the disproportionate effects of inadequate water and toilets on girls, who often suffer the indignity and shame of not being able to manage their menstruation hygienically.

In her remarks, Dr. Dzwairo addressed today’s biggest challenges in securing global access to safe water and adequate sanitation, saying that policies and other frameworks are often informed by outdated data and there is a lack of current data to support evidence-based arguments for securing global access to safe water and adequate sanitation. She also stressed that there are inadequate global and/or local partnerships to synergise strategies for achieving the 17 SDGs, seeing that they all are interrelated at various scales

WSSCC invites you to take action to encourage world leaders put human waste high on their agendas, so that no one must suffer from dirty water and environments contaminated by feces.  Please join Global Citizen’s Call to Action here.





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