Improve human waste management in African countries for better health, environment, and economy
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Africa/UNEP, Canadian-Media: Nairobi/Colombo, 19 November 2020 — Poor sanitation continues to pose major health, environmental and socioeconomic risks in many African countries, according to new research by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The paper highlights ways to improve management, generate industry from human waste, and improve sanitation for cities and households with poor fecal sludge management.
The research paper, Fecal sludge management in Africa: Socio-economic aspects, human and environmental health implications, is launched on World Toilet Day, which celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It explores current trends in fecal sludge management and how they are impacting human and environmental health in the region and provides guidance on enhancing wastewater management and sanitation services delivery across the continent.
Poor fecal sludge management is a major contributor to the 115 deaths per hour from excreta-related diseases in Africa, while improved sanitation has been shown to decrease diarrheal disease by 25 percent. It also contributes to huge economic losses: on the continent, poor sanitation leads to losses of approximately 1 to 2.5 percent of a country’s GDP. As population growth skyrockets — the continent’s urban population is projected to triple by mid-century — so too does the volume of fecal sludge and wastewater. Across West African cities, one person produces between 20–150 liters of wastewater per day. Considering an average daily generation of 1 liter of fecal sludge per person, a city of 1 million inhabitants will need to collect 1000 m3 every day.
“The scale and threat of poor fecal sludge management can be turned on its head if we look at the government and business opportunities that can galvanize real change in health and livelihoods in marginalized communities in countries struggling with poor sanitation,” said Dr. Habib El-Habr, Coordinator of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the…