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World Toilet Day – the challenge to achieve sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030

Published on 18 November 2019

World Toilet Day, marked on the 19th November, highlights the global sanitation crisis and the action needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which promises sanitation for all by 2030.

The need to achieve sustainable sanitation for all is an urgent one: 2.3 billion people still lack even a basic sanitation service and globally, 892 million people still practise open defecation (WHO/UNICEF, 2017).

At IDS the Sanitation Learning Hub (previously known as the CLTS Knowledge Hub) has been supporting learning and sharing within the international sanitation and hygiene sector for the past ten years, using innovative participatory approaches.

Based on the work of the Sanitation Learning Hub, and on the subject of what needs to be done to achieve SDG6 and ensure sanitation for all by 2030, Jamie Myers, Research and Learning Manager at the Institute for Development Studies, for the Sanitation Learning Hub, says:

“Despite real progress in some countries such as Ethiopia, India and Nepal where open defecation has reduced by more than 45 percent between 2000 and 2017, there is still an alarmingly large number of people without access to even basic sanitation and hygiene facilities.

“Community-Led Total Sanitation revolutionised the way governments and development partners approach improving sanitary conditions for the poor and benefited households and communities across the world. However, no one single approach has ultimately proven successful in solving sanitation and hygiene issues in all contexts. A range of approaches are needed, as well as the ability to assess which approach (or combination of approaches) is most suitable.

“In order to reach SDG 6. to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation by 2030 we need:

  • Timely, relevant and actionable learning that rapidly identifies what works and what doesn’t, fills in knowledge gaps, acknowledges failures and finds answers that provide practical solutions.
  • Context specific sanitation programmes that can adapt to the realities on the ground and to circumstances that can change quickly, whether political, environmental or market systems. There is also the need for the development of resilient designs and approaches in the face of the climate crisis.
  • Equity and inclusion to be the guiding principles for all donors, NGOs and governments working on sanitation and hygiene. We need to amplify the voices of those at risk of being left behind or discriminated against and design policies and practices that respond to their needs.”

To keep up to date on international sanitation and hygiene subscribe to the Sanitation Learning Hub e-newsletter.

World Toilet Day webinar

Lyla Mehta, Research Fellow at IDS will be presenting at an International Water Resources Association (IWRA) webinar for World Toilet Day on Tuesday 19 November.  Participation is free and open to all.  Register via IWRA.

Further reading

Making ‘Shit’ Everybody’s Business: Co-Production in Urban Sanitation

Celebrating Gender Transformative Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Vietnam

Shit Matters: The Potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation

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