A staggering 2.5 billion people worldwide do not use an improved sanitation facility, and about 1 billion people practice open defecation, which is one of the main causes of drinking water pollution and diarrhea incidences. Globally, 80% of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. As such, there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift towards affordable technological alternatives for wastewater treatment, which should be tailored to local and specific contexts. An option for low income countries and rural areas, is to promote wastewater treatment in ponds and lagoons, as well as the utilization of the treated effluents for crop irrigation and aquaculture. The valuation of fecal sludge-derived products can offset treatment cost and act as an incentive to create sustainable wastewater treatment and services.
WaterLex and UN Environment recently launched the E-book Sustainable Sanitation Systems: Health, Environment and Governance Challenges: The Case of Human Rights-Based Policy Reform in Alternative Wastewater Management Strategies, which addresses these issues. Through integrating the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation into policies and regulations, including for service providers and regulators, strategies could therefore be used to increase the access to safely managed sanitation services and achievement of SDG 6. Local and national governments therefore need to integrate their national and international commitments for improving access to sanitation into policies, action plans and budgets.
Photo credits: Pranab Basak with courtesy of Photoshare (India)