About 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation, according to the United Nations, yet hygiene is a cost-effective way to improve health, life expectancy, student learning, gender equality and a host of other social development issues.
Access to water, sanitation and hygiene – known collectively as WASH – is a basic human right and has profound wider socio-economic impact. It is particularly important for girls, for whom lack of adequate toilet facilities leaves them vulnerable to assault, locks them into a life of drudgery and poverty, and often means the difference between dropping out of school and getting an education – with wider consequences for national economies.
UN-Water’s World Toilet Day, on 19 November, aims to show that a toilet is not just a toilet: it’s a life-saver, dignity-protector and an opportunity-maker.
Expo Live and the Expo 2020 Global Best Practice Programme are supporting a number of great ideas, from India, Jordan, Lebanon and Nepal, that improve sanitation practices, raise awareness and, ultimately, save lives – all while working towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Six: to ensure sanitation and water for all by 2030.
“The Sustainable Development Goals are an urgent call for action by all countries in a global, all-encompassing partnership. Today we are far off track to achieve SDG Six on water and sanitation and we need to double up our efforts,” said Olcay Ünver, Vice-Chair of UN-Water.
“Initiatives such as Expo 2020 Dubai’s Expo Live and Global Best Practice Programme can help shine a light on real solutions that exist somewhere and that can inspire change somewhere else. For sanitation, this is not only important, but essential.”
In India, ayzh, supported by both Expo Live and Expo’s Global Best Practice Programme, is addressing the alarming UN finding that one million deaths each year are associated with unclean births, with infections accounting for 26 per cent of neonatal deaths and 11 per cent of maternal mortality. ayzh has come up with the $3 Janma Clean Birth Kit that contains simple tools to equip healthcare workers with essential supplies, skills and confidence to provide a clean, safe birth regardless of facility conditions.
Also in India, Expo Live grantee Saathi Eco Innovations has developed a technology to process banana tree fibre into 100 per cent biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads, while in the Middle East, two Expo Live grantees have devised innovative sanitation solutions for use in humanitarian contexts.
Jordanian invention Akyas is a single-use toilet bag that recycles and sanitises waste to create fertilizer, and CubeX is a home-scale bio-waste treatment device from Lebanese social enterprise Compost Baladi that will be piloted in refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley.
In Nepal, WaterAid is teaming up with the Ministry of Health and Population to improve hygiene by training female community health volunteers to facilitate hygiene sessions, using creative, simple-to-use promotional and demonstration aids.
Expo Live, Expo 2020’s global innovation and partnership programme has an allocated USD 100 million to support projects with creative solutions to pressing challenges, helping to improve people’s lives or preserve the planet – or both. The Global Best Practice programme spotlights projects providing real solutions to the world's biggest challenges with a view to expanding them elsewhere.
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