A recent news release from the World Health Organization delivers some sobering data on the literal death toll a polluted environment can deal to children.
“More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments. Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years”
Pretty staggering to say the least.
It’s also old news that has, unfortunately over time, progressively gotten worse. It should be no grand mystery that our propensity to pollute our environment is having an adverse effect on our children’s development or life spans. There is hope though.
By developing and following SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) countries are coming up with standards that can universally be followed showing positive results.
“Under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) countries are working on a set of targets to guide interventions for children’s environmental health, as well as to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five by 2030.”
The news release is filled with statistics as well as an excellent infographic (click the first slide above to access that). Click here to read the news release in its entirety.
It’s a time for us all to stop and recognize the fact that many people on this planet do not have access to clean water, or a sanitation option to clean the water they do have access to.
“World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about taking action to tackle the water crisis. Today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.”
This year’s theme is focused on waste water. It’s time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and find ways for the human race to stop wasting the water we have and, furthermore, find new and innovative ways to treat the water we do waste.
“Instead of wasting wastewater, we need to reduce and reuse it. In our homes, we can reuse greywater on our gardens and plots. In our cities, we can treat and reuse wastewater for green spaces. In industry and agriculture, we can treat and recycle discharge for things like cooling systems and irrigation.
By exploiting this valuable resource, we will make the water cycle work better for every living thing. And we will help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 6 target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase water recycling and safe reuse.”
Following the FSM4 conference in Chennai, we hosted Chris Buckley from UKZN in South Africa at our CEPT site.
“Prof Buckley is a chemical engineer and has spent his career as a contract researcher in the field of urban and industrial water and effluent management at the University of Natal and currently the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The primary funding sources are the South African Water Research Commission, eThekwini Municipality, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Sasol and Umgeni Water. He has partnerships with many international research groups.” – taken Chris’ bio on UKZN’s Academic Staff page.
Chris leads a center of excellence in sanitation research at UKZN, and is one of our partners for our upcoming prototype deployment to Durban. Chris’s visit provided him the opportunity to see the Duke/RTI RT, its field site operations, and to help facilitate planning for the Durban installation.
We had a nice half day visit with Marc and Siddharth from Duke University at the RTI-Duke site at CEPT in Ahmedabad on February 25th.
Marc and Siddharth did some initial measurements on key-point sources of odor in our prototype. As we’ve written in the past, odor is a key contributor to the adoption rate of our sanitation system: now, and in the future. Study after study has shown that people are drastically less likely use a toilet if it smells unclean. So the resulting data from this visit will be quite important for us moving forward.
We also enlisted the full Ahmedabad team in the inaugural run of the odor measurement procedure that is drafted in the IWA standards document. We hoped to glean new insight by performing a trial run of this process and we weren’t let let down. We learned a quite a bit.
Today is International Women’s Day and our project proudly recognizes, and stands in solidarity with, the incredible women and girls all around the world that face a day-to-day adversity that is individual only to them.
Aside from promoting and standing for equality across the board for women, our project has also focused on creating a sanitation solution that focuses on the needs and safety of women and girls.
Intentional partnerships, like the one we have with SEWA – a women’s union in India with national reach in-country, that supports user studies through the mobilization of communities to provide input and feedback – have had a direct influence on our system design and approach. This data we collect is being implemented into our toilet system so that we can provide a space of safety for women and girls to relieve and care for themselves with dignity.
Our team is also sharing this data openly – collaborating with other institutions to help develop system designs, as well as educate on the needs for better access to proper MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management). Many cultures around the world still don’t recognize this vital need in society, resorting to damaging and often dangerous treatment of women and girls during their monthly period. We are trying to do our part to help remedy that.
It goes without saying that toilets can’t solve every issue a woman faces daily, but they can at least make portions of their day-to-day life easier and safer.
You can find more information on International Women’s Day right here.