Utilities making inclusive and safe sanitation a reality – on World Toilet Day and Every other Day

Today, as every year on 19 November since 2013, is World Toilet Day. This official UN Day celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 3.6 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. This year’s World Toilet Day theme is “Valuing Toilets”, putting the emphasis on their key role in protecting our health, safety and dignity.



The World Toilet Day campaign draws attention to the fact that toilets – and the sanitation systems that support them – are underfunded, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the world, with devastating consequences for health, economics and the environment, particularly in the poorest and most marginalized communities.

While the challenges that operators are facing to make inclusive and safe sanitation a reality are numerous and multi-faceted, they are taking actions and showing commitment to address and solve them to realize the Human Right that entitles everyone to have adequate and affordable sanitation.

Many of the actions taken by operators were discussed at the recent 4th Global WOPs Congress, convened by GWOPA/UN-Habitat. These include considering a range of social and environmental aspects, efforts to bring sanitation operators to the forefront, identifying technical solutions that work in a given context, building and retaining capacity, financing safe and sustainable sanitation, and working with the given policy frame.

One emerging approach to support operators in this endeavor is Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS), which promotes a public service approach to extend and sustain inclusive sanitation services across urbanized areas. UN-Habitat is leading a project on Scaling Citywide Inclusive Sanitation Systems, which will bolster knowledge sharing and peer partnerships between sanitation service authorities and disseminate and mainstream CWIS principles and approaches, as well as related monitoring methodologies developed under the project.

“The difference visits undertaken to our mentor has enabled us also given to build that confidence that we can undertake what seemingly was a very big challenge”

The first-ever episode of the GWOPA`s new podcast series, WOPcast, focuses on the theme of Advancing Sanitation. The guests of this episode, Dennis Mwanza from the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International, Sasidharan Velayutham from Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) Malaysia, as well as Jonathan Kampata and Mwansa Nachula Mukuka from Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company in Zambia, explain why five years into the SDGs, still one out of two people lack safely managed sanitation, and how peer-to-peer learning within Sanitation-focused Water Operators’ Partnerships are a helpful mechanism to address this. The podcast episode talks about how past sanitation partnerships helped to create a better-skilled – and motivated – workforce, improving service levels and increasing job creation and retention in water and sanitation utilities.