Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population, or roughly 4.5 billion people, live without access to a household toilet that can safely dispose of waste. More than half of these people live in Sub-Saharan Africa, with sewerage services confined to small parts of the urban environment and a huge shortage, across the continent, of water treatment plants.
Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals seeks to provide available and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. Targets under Goal 3 also look to achieve wider and more equitable provision of safe and clean water for all, including 3.3, which calls for an end to water-borne disease, and 3.9, which is pushing for substantial reductions in the number of deaths and illnesses attributable to contaminated water.
Africa itself has developed a series of sanitation targets, including extracting commitments from governments to commit 0.5% of GDP to sanitation and waste management services. There has, sadly, been little progress on this front thus far.
Most African countries have yet to clearly assign roles and responsibilities to different levels of government for sanitation and fecal waste management – indeed, few countries even have a ministry of sanitation at the national level. Instead, sanitation service delivery becomes a function of either the Water or Health ministry, with responsibilities divided and ownership compromised.
As populations move into urban and peri-urban areas, those ownership issues are compounded. Densely populated urban informal settlements, or slums, are least likely to be connected to sewerage, yet are perversely most at risk of transmission of water- or fecal-borne illness.
In many urban areas, enterprising private sector companies are developing non-sewered sanitation models that respond to immediate needs, but there is little oversight or responsibility for the resultant waste.
The Fecal Waste Flow Diagram (SFD) model is one way to begin to understand the flows of waste from toilet to treatment and, possible transformation for reuse. The SFD captures the reality of the service chain in urban environments, showing just how much waste can be collected at containment and how little of that waste actually reaches treatment plants for safe disposal or reuse.
But the SFD is also a valuable tool for policymaking, as it lays out clearly the responsibilities and requirements for each point in the service chain, providing an opportunity for advocates to work closely with government to close the loop and fund the chain.
APHRC’s WORK IN SANITATION
The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) is implementing an urban sanitation project in East Africa with the aim of improving and expanding implementation and resourcing of national sanitation policies. This project covers Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and takes an evidence-informed approach to bridging the gap between theory and practice in delivery of safe sanitation services, in collaboration with government, civil society and private sector partners.
World Toilet Day 2017 presents an opportunity for APHRC and partners to deliver a strong advocacy message on behalf of safe sanitation and wastewater management.
From November 13-19, we will be running the Where does it go when you go? campaign to challenge people to think about what happens to their fecal waste — after the flush.
Across Nairobi and beyond we are hoping to place toilet stalls in public spaces and ask the question: where does it go when you go? After sitting on a closed toilet, fully clothed, participants will be encouraged to lift the lid and ‘flush’ their answer, or post it on the stall ‘wall’, or capture it for social media. We are aiming to erect more than 20 of these installations in Nairobi alone – even in the Ministry of Health’s WASH Hub office!
Central to the campaign’s objectives, and to keep participants thinking about fecal waste, will be a depiction of an SFD currently under development for Nairobi County by APHRC and Sanergy, a Kenya-based non-sewered sanitation provider. This SFD will be officially launched in early 2018.
Global Sanitation Objective: Available and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030 (SDG 6, 2015).
World Toilet Day Global Objective: Annual event to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.
Where does it go when you go?