The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will formally launch its sanitation-focused programme strategy as part of the AfricaSan3 Conference on 19 July 2011, writes the head of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WaSH) team Frank Rijsberman.
The foundation began its work in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector more than five years ago, and our collaborations with experts around the globe have taught us much about opportunities and challenges in the field. The knowledge and insights that we have gained also convinced us that the foundation can play a relatively unique – and potentially catalytic – role by focusing its efforts on those who don’t have access to a good toilet.
While it is recognised that the mass introduction of the flush toilet and sewers has saved more lives than any innovation in the history of public health or medical science, there are still 2.6 billion people in developing nations without access to a safe, hygienic toilet.
Moreover, we are losing ground in our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people who don’t have access to improved sanitation by 2015. Between 1990 and 2008, 1.3 billion people gained improved access to sanitation while the world’s population increased by 1.5 billion. Clearly, we need a better approach to ensure that more people can directly benefit from the revolutionary social and economic gains that improved sanitation delivers.
The Gates Foundation hopes to spark a “sanitation revolution 2.0” by taking action in three critical areas:
- Supporting innovation in the design of healthy and affordable latrines, septic tanks, and systems used to empty and safely handle fecal matter;
- Helping communities take action to dramatically reduce the number of people who practice open defecation; and
- Promoting advocacy for sanitation policies that prioritize the poor and underserved.
Source: Frank Rijsberman, Wanted: Sanitation Revolution 2.0, Foundation Blog, 27 Jun 2011