Tackling a global crisis: International Year of Sanitation 2008

Tackling a global crisis: International Year of Sanitation 2008

The International Year of Sanitation 2008: achieving sanitation for all

The UN General assembly declared 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation (IYS). The IYS provides the global community with an opportunity to raise awareness and accelerate actions for the achievement of the sanitation Millennium Development Goals through a variety of actions and interventions. This document presents an overview of the key issues and messages of the IYS.

The UN Water publication argues that policy-makers have talked about ‘water and sanitation’ as if they were one and the same thing, yet sanitation remains the poor relation. Neither people nor politicians want to engage with sanitation, so the resources needed to tackle the global sanitation crisis have not been forthcoming.

The document notes that there are five key messages of the International Year of Sanitation.

  • provision of sanitation is important for the prevention of illness of all kinds, and saves the huge costs of medical treatment
  • where sanitation facilities and hygienic behaviour are present, rates of illness drop, which contributes positively to social development
  • improved sanitation has positive economic benefits
  • sanitation promotes environmental cleanliness and protects streams, rivers, lakes and underground aquifers from pollution.
  • appropriate technologies are available and affordable to meet the sanitation goal.
For the goal of  ‘sanitation for all’ to come within reach, the authors argue that:
  • each of the five key IYS messages needs to be projected to audiences at international, national and local levels, by every means available.
  • political leaders and those in positions of authority whose voice and actions carry weight, like business and religious leaders, educators and civil society members, need to play their part for progress to be rapidly accelerated
  • advocacy at the national and local level in environments where sanitation is sorely lacking needs to be further promoted with active involvement from key stakeholders.
  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.