Saturday, 28 November 2020

UN in your language


International stop-making-fun-of-world-toilet day!

GHD logoThe international day that is made fun of the most is probably World Toilet Day. Close second is Global Handwashing Day. But why make fun of these days unless it is because they focus our attention on these issues for one day and should be our concern for 365 days, 24/7.

Lack of basic sanitation is a silent serial killer that targets the most vulnerable: every 20 seconds a child is killed by a disease directly related to poor sanitation. This amounts to more deaths than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.


Citizens of Flanders collected over 7 million Euros to fight diarrhea worldwide

Rode Kruis VlaanderenCitizens of Flanders collected over 7 million Euros to fight diarrhea worldwide.

It was the 6th edition of ‘Music for Life’, organized by the radio channel ‘Studio Brussels’. Three of the hosts were voluntarily locked up in a Glass House seven days before Christmas. They survived without any food, solely on juice. Listeners could buy songs and the money was donated to the Red Cross in Flanders for their fight against diarrhea. In this way, the Glass House inhabitants tried to raise awareness in the Flemish community of the silent disaster of diarrhea worldwide.


Unglamorous but fit for a Prince

The Prince of Orange with Ban Ki-moonThe reason most often mentioned for the lack of progress in improving sanitation worldwide is that it is a taboo subject and that access to toilets and clean water are subjects not fit for fine society.

Not so says the heir to the Dutch crown, the Prince of Orange, His Royal Highness Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.


Sanitation as a Human Right

SanitationDid you know that half of humanity lives in medieval conditions, with no clean, safe or private place to go to the toilet?

On July 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a groundbreaking resolution officially recognizing sanitation – access to, and use of, excreta and wastewater facilities and services – as a human right. Because denying access to sanitation is denying basic human rights.


3 Questions to Catarina de Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.


  • Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces. The word 'sanitation' also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and wastewater disposal.


  • Access to sanitation has been recognized by the UN as a human right, a basic service required to live a normal life.


  • The second component of MDG Target 7.C is to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation. Current rates of progress towards this are insufficient. If current trends continue, this component of Target 7.C will not be met (World Health Statistics 2011, WHO)


  • Most countries that are not on track to meet the MDG sanitation target are in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Southern Asia


  • The United Nations estimates that 2.6 billion people, nearly 40% of the worlds population, still lack access to improved sanitation and around 1.2 billion practice open defecation. An estimated 1.6 million people, mostly children under the age of 5, die each year from water and sanitation-related diseases.


  • Cross-country studies show that the method of disposing of excreta is one of the strongest determinants of child survival: the transition from unimproved to improved sanitation reduces overall child mortality by about a third. Children under five are the most vulnerable to poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation, two of the major causes of diarrhoea. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the disease kills at least 1.2 million children under five each year.


  • “Sanitation is a sensitive issue. It is an unpopular subject. Perhaps that is why the sanitation crisis has not been met with the kind of response we need,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said .


  •        He added that focusing on total hygiene does more than improve health. “It can also improve the safety of women and girls, who are often targeted when they are alone outdoors. And providing safe, private toilets may also help girls stay in school – which we know can increase their future earnings and help break the cycle of poverty.”