SEI leads innovative sanitation project in India
Five hundred international experts gather this week at the Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene in Mumbai, India. An international research initiative led by Stockholm Environment Institute will respond to the global challenge: providing sustainable sanitation solutions in flooded areas, to reduce human vulnerability.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has granted 3.9 million Swedish crowns for a three-year project on sustainable sanitation in flooded areas in India. The research project is lead by Stockholm Environment Institute in collaboration with the WASH Institute, India, and focuses on sustainable sanitation solutions in areas experiencing recurrent flooding. The state of Bihar is the most flood-prone state in India with more than 16 percent of the total flood-affected area and with more than 22 percent of India’s flood-affected population.
“Improved sanitation systems are of vital importance if we are to reduce human vulnerability in this annually flooded State”, says Cecilia Ruben, researcher and project leader at Stockholm Environment Institute. “At the moment only 25 percent of the population in Bihar has access to sanitation services. The coverage has to increase and the functionality of sanitation systems must be improved, if we are going to reach the Millennium Development Goals”.
More than half of the world’s open defecators are found in India, leading to diarrhoea and water-borne diseases. For example, in the State of Bihar, open defecation annually causes the death of 387 000 children under the age of five. India’s newly established Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is tasked to end open defecation nationwide.
“This project will raise awareness and attempt to resolve problems that silently inflicts millions of individuals, due to annually recurring floods or catastrophes that come with unexpected torrential flooding,” says Cecilia Ruben.
The international community embraces sanitation efforts through the UN Secretary-General’s “Sustainable Sanitation: Five-Year Drive to 2015”. This initiative is based on a 2010 UN General Assembly resolution calling upon the UN member states to “redouble efforts to close the sanitation gap”.
The Millennium Development Goal target on sanitation is lagging far behind. Without urgent and concerted action globally, it will be out of reach. Urgent effort is needed to improve functionality and sanitation services in order to protect human health and environmental assets. Action is required from experts, governments, industry, practitioners, research networks, sanitation alliances and media so that individuals can attain suitable and functional solutions to their sanitation needs. This will contribute to enhanced livelihoods, improved health, protection of ecosystems and poverty eradication.
For further information, please contact:
Cecilia Ruben – Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden – firstname.lastname@example.org
Prakaash Kumar – WASH Institute, India – email@example.com
Information on the Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene, October 9-14, 2011: http://wsscc-global-forum.org/
Stockholm Environment Institute is an independent international research institute. The Institute has established a reputation for rigorous and objective scientific analysis in the field of environment and development. SEI aims to bring about change for sustainable development by bridging science and policy.
Background information on the project: http://sei-international.org/news-and-media/1918