Landmark report marks World Toilet Day

To mark World Toilet Day on 19 November 2020, a new report on how technology can be used to improve sanitation and public health outcomes was launched by the International Water Association (IWA) and the Toilet Board Coalition (TBC).

The white paper, entitled ‘Improving public health through smart sanitation and digital water’, calls for sanitation and water operators to boost collaboration and accelerate the use of digital technologies to improve public health surveillance.

The report reinforces the critical importance of data mapping and sharing, and the use of remote monitoring for managing disease outbreaks, to shift from a reactive to a more preventative response. Notably, these developments could help governments and communities prepare for, and respond more effectively to, any future outbreak of coronavirus.

IWA Executive Director Prof Kala Vairavamoorthy said: “Through the global response to COVID-19, a new social contract is emerging around health and hygiene. This landmark IWA and TBC report shines a spotlight on the plight of millions of people, while offering solutions for how we can build back better, stronger and more resilient communities.

“The digital revolution can help the water sector to transition to a new paradigm for sanitation. Doing so ultimately has the potential to improve the health of millions of people, as well as helping to tackle disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.

“Furthermore, a significant step forward would be for excrement to be considered as an asset rather than a liability, through its recovery and reuse as a potential source of energy. This could be a potential panacea for the sanitation challenges that currently exist in a number of developing countries.”

TBC Director of Operations Alexandra Knezovich added: “The Toilet Board Coalition is thrilled to partner with IWA and the contributing partners on this compelling piece. We believe smart technologies, biosensors and public private data ecosystems are a vital key to unlocking the economics and scalability of sanitation systems.”

The white paper highlights the thought leadership of IWA members involved with the IWA Digital Water Programme, the TBC Smart Sanitation Economy activity, and reflections from a variety of innovative businesses from around the world addressing water and sanitation in a new way.

Furthermore, IWA recently launched a new initiative on ‘Regulating for citywide inclusive sanitation’. This includes an Advisory Board comprised of representatives from various organisations and international entities, plus a Task Force of regulators, service providers, and experts in sewered and non-sewered sanitation. The initiative aims to support and inspire regulators in their contribution to achieving inclusive citywide sanitation, and support the key objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.