A historic leap forward: AfricaSan5 joins forces with FSM5

Aerial photo

A systems change is needed for each person to truly enjoy their right to sanitation, i.e., a robust system that intricately weaves the elements needed in support of this right, one that is built on the foundation of public-private-CSO* partnerships that are mutually beneficial, and one that puts all people at the heart of government policies and actions. In Cape Town, from 18 to 22 February, the African Ministers’ Council of Water, organisers of AfricaSan5, is joining up with the organisers of the 5th International Faecal Sludge Management Conference to host what could potentially be a historic leap forward in bridging sanitation-related policy (at regional level), research and practice.

No innovation in the past 200 years has done more to save lives and improve health than the sanitation revolution triggered by invention of the toilet. But it did not go far enough. It only reached one-third of the world. - Sylvia Mathews Burwell, former President of the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation during the AfricSan3 conference in Rwanda, 2011

As the global WASH sector prepares for next month’s joint conferences, Ms Burwell’s statement continues to ring true.

  • Many groups of people still don’t have access to safe and sustainable toilets.

  • Even if one’s got a toilet, we all know that unless this structure is kept clean and functional, has permanent (and running) water, and separates faecal waste from users — it can never be considered truly sanitary, nor will it be used for the long term. Slipping back to unsanitary practice remains an all-too real challenge.

  • And what’s a toilet if it doesn’t provide you with a secure environment when nature calls? Doesn’t leading a dignified life also entail respecting one’s space and privacy… and of course, addressing consumers’ specific needs? For sure, there’s no one universal toilet that applies to all groups of people.

  • It’s not ‘just about the toilet’: installing handwashing facilities and embedding the practice of washing with soap severely lags behind.

  • Then there’s the issue of the need to move waste safely… from point of use to an area that does not pollute the environment, and in ways that don’t harm the invisible heroes who make sure that those of us who don’t have access to piped sewage systems enjoy acceptable standards of sanitation that enable our continued development.

During the joint sanitation conferences in Cape Town, catch our team of rural sanitation and urban sanitation experts share the latest evidence and results arising from our multi-country sanitation programmes:

Interested to receive updates on the Cape Town conferences? Follow the SNV WASH Twitter account now.

Note:* CSO stands for civil society organisations

Photo credit: pixabay/sharonang