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New global initiative aims to bring sanitation to all worldwide

Many parts of the world still lack basic sanitation and access to clean water, which facilitates the spread disease and often results in fatalities. But now, The Water Innovation Engine Program has launched the Urban Sanitation Challenge to bring sustainable sanitation to the areas of the world where it is still not readily available.

The Water Innovation Engine was formed in response to a call to action from the United Nations/World Bank High-Level Panel on Water.

As the world’s population keeps rising, finding cheap and effective sanitation systems that consume little water and prevent disease is crucial, which prompted the Grand Challenges Canada organization to launch the program.

Currently, with many people lacking basic access to clean water and sanitation, millions are susceptible to disease, and many people, mostly children, die from these conditions.

In 2015, it was reported that 892 million people still defecate in the open, which also poses a threat to personal safety as well as health.

In India, open defecation can be dangerous, specifically for women. Many are harassed, and there have been reports of rapes and murders that happen when women go out at sunset and sunrise to relieve themselves.

“The lack of sanitation has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable women and girls and leads to diarrhea, death and delayed child development. Investing in safe urban sanitation is key to advancing gender equality, and to ensuring the health and wellbeing of every woman and every child,” said Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada

There are currently five projects underway with the Urban Sanitation Challenge.

The first is an affordable toilet that uses less than one cup of water, blocks odors and diseases through a weighed flap that seals itself after use, and costs no more than 10 US dollars.

More than one million of these toilets have been installed throughout the world, improving the lives of many.

The other projects include providing bundled water and sanitation services for Laguna, a province in the Philippines, bringing sustainable sanitation to low-income urban households in Peru, improving the sanitation services in Kenya, and converting human waste into renewable fuel in Rwanda.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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