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The Shitty State of Human Sanitation

Environmental activist Chris CanadayEnvironmental activist Chris CanadayFor Chekhovs Kalashnikov’s very first interview on Change Makers we will be talking with environmental activist Chris Canaday from California about the broken and dangerous state of human and water sanitation systems and the solution to this problem that is damaging our environment and health.

I think that, before we talk about this revolutionary sanitation system, it is important to touch on why the current system is broken. Can you elaborate on how the contemporary western toilet came into being and the devastating effect that it has had on the environment and our health? People in Europe used to live in total filth in their cities, throwing their excrement out the window. Porcelain flush toilets had been worked on for some time, but only in 1861, after her husband had died of fecally transmitted typhoid, Queen Victoria ordered flush toilets to be refined and installed in much of Britain.

A Free Minimalist Urine-diverting Dry Toilet (UDDT) for the Unhoused, Poor or Disaster-stricken

Shifting from wasteful, expensive, contaminating, water-based toilets to decentralized, environmentally friendly, dry toilets should be more a matter of paradigm shift than capital investment. This is especially true for those who have little money, are potentially living on the street, or are in the upheaval of an emergency.

By Chris Canaday

The key things that a UDDT needs to do are: (1) jail up the potentially dangerous feces that may transmit many terrible diseases (including diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and intestinal worm eggs) long enough for these to die and (2) set the urine free on the soil, where it is excellent fertilizer for the plants and transmits no disease. This separation also greatly reduces the potential for stench and keeps the volume of dangerous material small and manageable.

UN partners WSSCC and OHCHR gather diverse stakeholders to foreground sanitation, rights and dignity for women

UN partners WSSCC and OHCHR gather diverse stakeholders to foreground sanitation rights and dignity for womenGrass-roots activists shared inspirational experiences on reducing female circumcision in Senegal, raising awareness of lesbian and transgender issues in Nepal and working for the dignity of sex workers in India at a special meeting at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva on Friday, 7 March 2014.

Ahead of International Women’s Day on Saturday 8 March, joint hosts the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organized aone-day event on Inspiring Change to Promote Women’s Rights and Dignity.


World Toilet Day, 19 NovemberWorld-Toilet-Day-logo big

 19 November has been formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly as World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day has been marked by international and civil society organizations all over the world for many years. However, it was not formally recognized as an official UN day until a UNGA resolution of 24 July 2013, which requested UN-Water, in consultation with relevant entities of the United Nations system and in collaboration with Governments and relevant stakeholders, to facilitate the implementation of World Toilet Day in the context of Sanitation for All.

TOIIThe objective of this initiative is to make sanitation for all a global development priority and urge changes in both behaviour and policy on issues ranging from improving water management to ending open defecation. Today, 2.5 of the world’s seven billion people, mostly in rural areas, do not have proper sanitation and 1.1 billion people still defecate in the open. This has significant impacts on human health, dignity and security, the environment, and social and economic development. The countries where open defecation is most widely practiced are the same countries with the highest mortality rate of children under five, high levels of under nutrition and poverty, and large wealth disparities.


2013 World Water Week closes with a call for concerted global action on water

World Water Week flagThe 2013 World Water Week, focusing on cooperation and partnerships, closed today with a call for the United Nations to put special emphasis on water when it considers the post-2015 global development agenda. In over 100 seminars, workshops and events spread throughout the week, over 2,600 participants have been meeting, discussing and debating the most pressing water challenges of our time under the thematic umbrella “Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships”.

The Week brought together an unprecedented number of professionals Stockholm – world leaders, government representatives, scientists, members of the private sector and civil society. Every single one of them contributes to the work toward a water wise world.

scene from the exhibition hall

As input to the United Nations General Assembly later this month, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) presented the Stockholm Statement during the closing ceremony of the World Water Week in Stockholm.

The Statement, a result of an open and inclusive consultation process before and during the Week, calls for a dedicated goal on water as the world body considers the post-2015 global development agenda.

With the close of the 2013 World Water Week, the sights are already set on 2014. Next year’s theme is “Water and Energy – Making the Link”. Speaking during the closing session, Dr Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations and CEO of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative set the scene for next year’s deliberations by telling delegates that energy is inseparable from sustainable development.




Current Issue: Africa Water & Sanitation & Hygiene March-April 2017 Vol.12 No.2