Talking Poo with You: World Toilet Summit 2012

general, sanitation, south africa

It seems a little progress is being made in getting the world to talk poo. Some people know that 2.5 billion humans lack safe access to toilets and over 4,000 kids die each day from diarrhea illnesses linked with poor sanitation. Fewer people understand toilet issues affect everybody either in natural disasters or through types of sanitation systems (h20 or non-h20) used. But there is more work to be done to ensure all people have a humane place to go and to design sanitation systems that protect the natural environment. The annual summit started by the World Toilet Organization is where such conversations are started. As a volunteer for a grassroots group working on toilets in North America, I’ve been nominated to present PHLUSH (Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human) efforts there.

So PHLUSH – and by default Water for the Ages – is heading to the World Toilet Summit next week in Durban, South Africa. Local event sponsors are the South African Toilet Organization and the Foundation for Professional Development. Leading toilet experts from around the globe will be in attendance. The list is invigorating. Bindeshwar Pathak an Indian sociologist and founder of Sulabh International, Dr. Kamal Kar a specialist in social and participatory development in sanitation, Barbara Penner whose current project is studying the history of h20-based sanitation expansion amidst high economic and environmental costs, Hannah Neumeyer a senior legal manager of WASH United, Piers Cross with a background in social anthropology and public health who helped organize AfricaSan, and more. The agenda is packed!

To share their [the above toilet aficionados] knowledge with the world, I’ll liveblog and livetweet the event. Check out PHLUSH liveblog starting December 3 for updates. Follow @PortlandPHLUSH and @waterfortheages for livetweets using conference hashtag of #WTS2012. All talks to be covered are listed below this post. And it would be great to hear issues you want me to cover at the World Toilet Summit. Please make your voice heard using the poll below. This amazing opportunity is made available by a sponsorship from the World Toilet Summit and donations from many supporters. In the honor of service at the World Toilet Summit next week, it’s time to talk poo and share it with you.

December 4, 2012
Keynote Address by Dr. Bindshwar Patak from 10:45 to 11:00 (10:45 to 11:00 PST)
African Toilet Design from 11:00 to 11:15 (1:00 to 1:15 PST)
Sanitation for All by Piers Cross from 11:45 to 12:00 (1:45 to 2:00 PST)
Achievements and Challenges of CLTS in Africa by Dr. Kamal Kar from 12:45 to 13:00 (2:45 to 3:00 PST)
Sanitation and Human Rights by Hannah Neumeyer from 14:30 to 16:00 (4:30 to 6:00 PST)

December 5, 2012
Sustainable Health and Hygiene Practices by Therese Dooley from 10:00 to 10:40 (00:00 to 00:40 PST)
Gender in Sanitation by Maxie Matthiessen from 11:30 to 11:50 (1:30 to 1:50 PST)
Mobile Communal Sanitation by Christopher Muanda from 15:30 to 16:30 (5:30 to 6:30 PST)

December 6, 2012
Green Buildings Recovery of Water and Nutrients by Jan-Olaf Drangert from 10:45 to 11:00 (00:45 to 1:00 PST)

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Celebrating World Toilet Day 2012 Locally and Globally

animation, sanitation

Water and toilets are inextricably linked, but toilets sometimes take a backseat to water problems occurring worldwide. But if you don’t have water, you can’t have some styles of toilets or proper hygiene and around 200 million tons of human defecation pollutes waterways each year causing illnesses. Even though over 800 million people do not have safe drinking water and around 2.6 billion people do not have safe sanitation, water projects often receive more funding and media coverage. It’s essential to think about toilets locally and globally. World Toilet Day created by the World Toilet Organization is an opportunity to talk about the hidden problem of sanitation. To celebrate World Toilet Day 2012, Water for the Ages is raising awareness in US cities about emergency sanitation with PHLUSH and sharing information about toilet initiatives happening globally. Sanitation saves lives!

Sharing Emergency Sanitation in the US
PHLUSH believes toilets are a human right. The organization [where I volunteer] works on sanitation issues in North America: 1) public restroom design, 2) emergency sanitation, and 3) ecological sanitation. PHLUSH has had success in adaptation of an emergency toilet model used in Christchurch, New Zealand. This Twin Bucket Emergency Toilet helps families deal with lack of sanitation, and it’s ecologically friendly. Partner organization MDML created the Sewer Catastrophe Companion which provides detailed instructions in the event of long-term sewer disruption. These two organizations seem to be leading the nation in long-term emergency sanitation solutions. For World Toilet Day 2012, PHLUSH is sharing this emergency toilet model with several cities across the country. Please see open letters to Seattle, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz below. For more information, please contact info@phlush.org and follow @PortlandPHLUSH and @waterfortheages.

Emergency Sanitation Letter Seattle
Emergency Sanitation Letter San Francisco
Emergency Sanitation Letter Santa Cruz


Above Photo: Twin Bucket Toilet by Carol McCreary

Supporting Sanitation Efforts Worldwide
Lack of toilets globally is a huge issue, and related illnesses are the second biggest killer of children under five. Regions with worst access are West and Central Africa (36 percent coverage), South Asia (37 percent coverage) and Eastern and Southern Africa (38 percent coverage). Improving toilet coverage will allow girls to attend school, help save lives of small children, create a safer environment for women, and is the first step towards empowering communities. Many organizations are working to raise awareness on World Toilet Day 2012. The World Toilet Day website encourages people to get involved by tweeting and signing a petition. Water Aid created an awesome video to let people know 1 in 3 women do not have safe places to go. A great article called Thinking Outside the Stall was written featuring WASH Advocates. Water.org has an interactive website where you can “share your voice for World Toilet Day” by allowing them to link to your twitter and Facebook accounts. And Water for People has nifty e-cards that you can send to your friends. Please take a few moments today to learn a little something about those many humans without toilets. It could help save lives!

We all poop. We all live downstream.

sanitation, sustainability, technology, urban areas, water availability

It’s World Toilet Day, and it’s no joke. Around 2.6 billion people worldwide lack toilets and every 15 seconds a child dies from sanitation-related illnesses. But we can smile that World Toilet Day was designated by the World Toilet Organization to organize groups for positive sanitation change.

Our local World Toilet Day event in Portland, Oregon was the First Flush of a third Portland Loo built by the City of Portland. As quoted on Commissioner Leonard’s Blog, the Loo “is a modern, public urban toilet that pushes Portland into the future by making public restrooms available, safe, hygienic and sustainable.” Its sleek design makes it hip, solar-powered lights make it eco-friendly, and 24-hour status make it useful to those that need a location to use the bathroom.


Above Photo: Anna DiBenedetto

This event was supported by an exceptional organization called PHLUSH (Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human). Carol McCreary, co-founder of PHLUSH, spoke at the grand opening. PHLUSH – a group that I now volunteer with – is formed of inspiring and knowledgeable people who support sanitation for marginalized populations, research ecological-sanitation methods, and promote innovation for sanitation. We all poop. We all live downstream. Happy World Toilet Day!