New publication: Redefining shared sanitation – University of Copenhagen

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03 July 2015

New publication: Redefining shared sanitation

Assistant Professor Thilde Rheinländer recently co-authored a paper for the Bulletin of the WHO together with colleagues from the University of Copenhagen, the University of Ghana and the Africa Sanitation Think Tank.

Below is the first paragraph.  You can read the article in its entirety on the WHO Bulletin website.

Redefining shared sanitation


Thilde Rheinländer, Flemming Konradsen, Bernard Keraita, Patrick Apoya & Margaret Gyapong

As the Millennium Development Goals reach their deadline, it is clear that the world is not on track to achieve global sanitation targets. With sanitation trends, global developments and local contexts in mind, it is time to adopt a more flexible approach to achieving universal functional sanitation. By functional sanitation, we mean toilet facilities that protect human health by preventing contamination of the environment with human faecal waste.

According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization/United Nations Children’s Fund Joint Monitoring Programme for water and sanitation (JMP), 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to any type of improved sanitation. To meet the JMP definition of improved sanitation, toilets must be used by only one household, as well as meeting certain design standards that prevent human contact with faeces. Of this 2.5 billion, 732 million use a facility that does not meet minimum hygiene standards and one billion people practise open defecation (i.e. defecation without using a toilet facility). The remaining group of 784 million people depend on public or other types of shared sanitation facilities as their only sanitation choice. JMP defines shared sanitation as “sanitation of an otherwise acceptable type shared between two or more households.”