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'Dry Toilets' Are the Talk of World Water Week

By Paola Mikaba, SIWI - Stockholm International Water Institute

Nearly 1 in 3 people in the world lacks access to basic sanitation facilities. As traditional toilets rely on costly sewerages, governments, researchers, and entrepreneurs are exploring new approaches to achieve the toilets-for-all-by-2030 target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on water and sanitation. An increasing number of these stakeholders are opting for waterless toilets as affordable and transferable alternatives.

During World Water Week 2019, several sessions of the conference shed light on the many advantages of dry toilets. They provided real-life examples as well as ideas on how to scale up these models. As "Water for Society: Including All" is the conference’s thematic focus this year, many speakers put emphasis on marginalized groups.

Tune into this Facebook Live to watch to the Closing Plenary summarizing the key takeaways:

Container-Based Sanitation (CBS) can help the urban poor.

CBS is an end-to-end service that collects waste hygienically from dry toilets built around sealable, removable containers, and transports the waste for safe disposal or treatment. CBS is logistically feasible in most settings, reduces health risks compared to pit latrines, and does not rely upon waterborne sewerage. It is therefore well-suited for low-income urban communities.

Dry toilets are a business opportunity for refugees.

In East Africa, refugee camps have to cope with thousands of tons of human waste daily. The collection and treatment of dry waste is not only a much-needed sanitation service — it is also a significant opportunity to generate economic benefits. Organic human waste is indeed rich in energy that can be turned into clean fuel (briquettes). Many innovative businesses in sub-Saharan Africa use ready-to-transfer models for refugee and other remote a communities.

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These solutions are safe and sustainable, too.

Dry toilets are safe because they prevent contact with feces while 1.8 billion people are currently forced to drink water that could be contaminated. The lack of clean water and sanitation kills more people every year than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. Dry toilets are sustainable, too, because they reduce water usage while traditional toilets use up to 14 liters with every flush.

The 2019 edition of the World Economic Forum’s Risks Report identified water scarcity as the fourth most impactful and the ninth likeliest risk facing the planet over the coming decade.

If you work on water issues in relation to climate change, make sure to submit your research or project since this will precisely be World Water Week’s 2020 theme. The application process opens in November 2019.

In the meantime, watch a summary of World Water Week 2019 dedicated to inclusion.