Mitigating Poor Urban Sanitation and Health Impacts

Globally, 4.2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation[1]. In urban areas alone, over 700 million residents do not have access to sanitation management services. The lack of access to affordable and safe sanitation services and products and unhygienic practices such as open defecation have contributed to diarrheal diseases, and the connection between such poor sanitation and public health is evident. Municipalities with poor sanitation systems often have the highest mortality rates among children under five years old along with high levels of malnutrition and poverty.

Every year, the U.N. and development partners call for increased awareness to address the challenges associated with sanitation services delivery through World Toilet Day. In 2020, World Toilet Day focuses on “Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change” to draw attention to how climate change impacts like floods can negatively affect sanitation management infrastructure and services, and in turn, threaten the release of poorly-treated or untreated waste that contributes to diseases and malnutrition via enteropathy.

Addressing these challenges requires continuous advocacy, coordinated urban planning, strategic policymaking, and investments in infrastructure and service delivery that link sanitation and health. The City Wide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) planning approach is an emerging effort to recognize the complexities and varied solutions that urban policymakers and practitioners are applying to advance sustainable sanitation management, benefitting public health. The CWIS planning process also presents an opportunity to determine the risks from climate change impacts in sanitation management.

Through selected presentations and moderated panel discussion, speakers will address field-based lessons and practices around sanitation management awareness-raising, planning, and service delivery in urban areas that take health-related perspectives into account and leverage efforts of public health stakeholders to reduce disease transmission.

[1] JMP report Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Update and SDG Baselines, 2017

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Lead Water & Sanitation Specialist, World Bank


Water and Sanitation Specialist, USAID
Water and Sanitation Consultant, World Bank
Team Leader, Sanitation, World Health Organization
Director, WASH Sector Support, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP)
Senior Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services (WASH) Advisor, RTI International
Institutional and Policy Development Specialist, RTI International

Workgroup Co-Chairs

Director, Global Health , Bixal
Director, Strategic Initiatives, International Rescue Committee
Associate Director - Water , RTI International
Senior Specialist, Environmental Incentives
For more information contact Paul Sherman at: [email protected]