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WSP Sharpens Focus on Sanitation Crisis in Support of International Year of Sanitation

Lack of access to basic sanitation services has indisputable cross-cutting impacts: diarrhea-related diseases together with respiratory infections alone kill up to 4 million children every year.  Other impacts include higher mortality rates for mothers during childbirth and school absences by young girls during menstruation due to poor facilities.  Complicating matters, there seems to be an aversion to open discussions of hygiene issues in the larger discourse about water supply and sanitation. 

WSP is ramping up its hygiene portfolio and has developed an action plan in support of the UN's International Year of Sanitation.  Organizers of The International Year of Sanitation, set by the UN General Assembly, are hoping that 2008 will be the year that the stigma surrounding sanitation is overcome.  At the May 2007 meeting in New York, participants representing a wide range of stakeholders agreed to a set of eight broad objectives for the IYS.  The objectives cover a range of issues on how to accelerate progress on sanitation.    WSP’s sanitation action plan is structured along these eight objectives. Read WSP's Action Plan for the IYS.

The need for increased action on sanitation and hygiene is also well reflected in our Business Plan for fiscal year 2008 in terms of fund allocation, with the number of activities and funds allocated for sanitation and hygiene surpassing those for water supply.  Planned and on-going activities reflect the concrete steps WSP is taking to put the sanitation community back on track towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Progress will require broad cooperation through public and private partnerships, community involvement and public awareness, and to this end WSP is focusing its sanitation and hygiene sector activities on change of outcomes rather than on provision of infrastructure.  To raise awareness and galvanize political will, WSP is supporting four regional Ministerial level conferences in four regions.

  • LATINOSAN 2007 The Latin American Conference on Sanitation, Cali, Columbia, November 12-16
  • EASan 2007 East Asia Ministerial Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene, Beppu City, Japan, November 30- December 1
  • African Ministerial Sanitation Conference (AfricaSan), Durban, South Africa, 18-20 February 2008
  • SACOSan 3, India Expected to be announced for Oct/ Nov 2008

WSP helps governments in the preparation of sanitation status overviews and developing national sanitation policies.   At the community level WSP is conducting pioneering work in Total Sanitation and Sanitation Marketing program addressing the critical need to mobilize communities and tailor sanitation services to local needs.  The focus of the total sanitation campaigns is on achieving open defecation free status in villages. The core of sanitation marketing is to support local markets that provide sanitation solutions that are desired and maintained by households.

Our Scaling up Hand Washing projects emphasize hand washing with soap at critical times in seven low and middle income countries globally.  It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities could reduce diarrhea-related morbidity in young children by more than one-third.  If hygiene promotion is added, such as teaching proper hand washing, it could be reduced by two thirds.  It would also help accelerate economic and social development in countries where poor sanitation is a major cause of lost work and school days due to illness. 

Contact Name: 
Heather Worley
Contact Email: 
wsp@worldbank.org