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United Nations report calls for collaboration to improve sanitation


A new report presented at the United Nations today to celebrate the UN’s recognition of World Toilet Day, calls for the private and public sectors to come together to improve sanitation and get the Millennium Development Goal for sanitation back on track.

Unilever sign in Mexico

The Report, ‘We Can’t Wait’, was jointly published by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, WaterAid and Unilever’s toilet hygiene brand Domestos. This is the first time three organisations representing the worlds of the UN, NGOs and business have come together to raise awareness of the sanitation crisis.

The Report states that over 2.5 billion people lack access to an adequate toilet, with devastating consequences in particular for the well-being, health, education and empowerment of women and girls worldwide.

Transforming lives

The stark consequences for women and girls of the lack of access to toilets or use of good hygiene practices is highlighted in the Report.

One in three women risk shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet.

Over 526 million women have no choice but to go to the toilet out in the open. Women and girls living without any toilets spend 97 billion hours each year finding a place to go.

WaterAid Chief Executive Barbara Frost says: “Every hour 70 women and girls die from diseases brought about from a lack of access to sanitation and water. We can and should be doing better – it is basic services we are talking about that can transform lives.”

Sanitation is a priority

The Report brings together real life case studies alongside research from a variety of organisations and agencies that examine the impact of the lack of sanitation on women and girls.

A number of recommendations has been made including:

  • Governments must make strengthening the sanitation sector and bringing the MDG target back on track a priority.
  • The post-2015 development framework must address water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as priority issues.
  • Sanitation must be integrated into education policy, supported by sufficient resources and concrete plans.
  • More private sector organisations must realise the social and business opportunities and invest in social development.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman, together with UN Deputy-Secretary General, Jan Eliasson say: “By acting decisively we can now make a positive impact on global health, education, women’s safety, social equality and economic growth for generations to come.”

Dr Chris Williams, Executive Director, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, says: “An environment that lacks sanitation and clean water is an environment where achieving other Development Goals is an impossible dream. The time to act is now.”

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