Throughout 2020, Water Mission has highlighted the urgent need for safe water in the fight against a global pandemic and following natural disasters. In such emergencies, safe water becomes a scarce but desperately needed resource in sustaining life and preventing the spread of diseases.
Today, on World Toilet Day, Water Mission would like to call attention to more than 4.2 billion people who live without access to safe sanitation. This equates to over half of the global population.
Each year, November 19 is designated by the United Nations (UN) as World Toilet Day, a day designated to raise awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation services. Most people living in the U.S. don’t worry about where they will find a bathroom, having access at either home, school, or work. Yet a large percentage of the world’s population lacks this basic accommodation and faces the indignity of defecating outside without privacy. Clean and safe toilets are more than just a place to use the restroom, they are essential for health, human dignity, and improved education. The health benefits realized from providing access to safe drinking water, can only be maintained by also providing access to safely managed sanitation services.
Working with strategic partners to achieve Sustainable Development Goals
On World Toilet Day, we also celebrate the advancements and alliances that allow Water Mission to provide sanitation to tens of thousands of people around the world. Working with innovative partners such as the Pentair Foundation and Kohler, Water Mission aspires to create a better future for all through the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals were adopted by UN member states in 2015 and target the most pressing challenges across the globe. Water Mission works toward several of these goals, including ending poverty, strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries, and ensuring access to safe water and sanitation for all by 2030.
The Pentair Foundation
With support from the Pentair Foundation, Water Mission is providing safe drinking water and improved sanitation to people in Honduras. Through Project Safe Water Honduras, teams are working with local Honduran governmental organizations to effectively deliver improvements in water quality, sanitation infrastructure, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) behaviors. Between 2008 and 2015, in partnership with Pentair, Water Mission installed more than 17,000 latrines in the district of Colon, in Honduras. Follow-up studies proved that have made an impact on communities experienced a reduction in pediatric gastrointestinal rates.
To date, Kohler and Water Mission’s shared efforts have made an impact on approximately 25,000 people by building Healthy Latrines™ that include a Kohler pour flush toilet – an affordable seated toilet that flushes when water is poured in by the user.
Better health outcomes with comprehensive WASH services
To achieve better health outcomes, it is essential that everyone has sanitation facilities, along with clean, safe water and handwashing resources. By prioritizing comprehensive WASH service delivery, we help protect and maintain our health security and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases such as COVID-19, cholera, and typhoid.
An example of Water Mission’s work to provide a full range of WASH services is in refugee settlements, where we work to build WASH infrastructure to serve ever-increasing populations.
In Arua, a district comprised of several settlements in northern Uganda, Water Mission collaborated with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Ugandan government, nonprofit organizations, churches, and ministries to provide essential WASH infrastructure.
Of the settlements in northern Uganda, Rhino Camp is known as the destination for new refugees, most of whom are South Sudanese. While migrations between countries were discouraged by governments during COVID-19, Rhino Camp continued to receive people fleeing widespread hunger and war. With the influx of newcomers came increased demands for lifesaving WASH resources, including the need for access to toilets.
Working with UNHCR, Water Mission supervised the construction of slab latrines for emergency use to support safe waste management and help minimize contamination of water sources in areas where new arrivals live.
In addition, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we adapted our strategies in Rhino Camp to accommodate safety and health recommendations. This included implementing social distancing practices at water access points and distribution of health and hygiene education resources in local languages.
How toilets impact health
On World Toilet Day 2020, Water Mission raises awareness on the important role that safe sanitation plays in maintaining people’s health and upholding dignity. Toilets, combined with clean, safe water and good hygiene, help prevent future disease outbreaks.
Our mission, “To honor God by developing, implementing, and sharing best-in-class safe water solutions that transform as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible,” can only be achieved when all people have access to safe water and sanitation services.