With the launch of the official website, www.worldtoiletday.info, the World Toilet Day 2022 campaign was kicked off last week. This year's edition is dedicated to the theme 'sanitation and groundwater' and is a continuation of World Water Day's 'Making the invisible visible' campaign. IGRAC was co-coordinator of World Water Day 2022 and is also part of the World Toilet Day 2022 taskforce. How are groundwater and sanitation connected? What are the main messages of this campaign? How can people join the campaign?
How are groundwater and sanitation connected?
Inadequate sanitation has impacts on groundwater resources. Groundwater utilisation for drinking water is endangered by the uncontrolled disposal of human excreta, especially in densely populated urban settlements, and the absence of sustainable sanitation systems in fast-growing cities and peri-urban areas.
In the other hand, safely managed and properly sited sanitation protects humans and groundwater from the pathogens in faecal waste. A safe and sustainable sanitation system begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible and dignified setting. Either, the waste then gets stored in a tank, which can be treated on-site where liquid waste infiltrates to soil and solids may be emptied later by a collection service. Or, it is transported away by a sewer connected to a treatment plant and then safely disposed of or reused. Safe reuse of treated human waste can capture greenhouse gas emissions for energy production and provide agriculture with a reliable source of water and nutrients.
Sustainable sanitation systems need to be able to withstand more frequent floods, droughts, changes in water availability and sea level rise brought on by climate change, so that services always function and groundwater is protected. In areas experiencing water scarcity and decreasing groundwater availability treated wastewater can be used to recharge aquifers and replenish groundwater supplies.
Groundwater protection zones are vital, as part of a context-specific, integrated approach to ensuring sanitation systems, land use planning and water abstraction do not adversely impact the quality and quantity groundwater resources, particularly in areas where aquifers are close to the surface.
What are the main messages of this campaign?
- Safe sanitation protects groundwater. Toilets that are properly sited and connected to safely managed sanitation systems, collect, treat and dispose of human waste, and help prevent human waste from spreading into groundwater.
- Sanitation must withstand climate change. Toilets and sanitation systems must be built or adapted to cope with extreme weather events, so that services always function and groundwater is protected.
- Sanitation action is urgent. We are seriously off track to ensure safe toilets for all by 2030. With only eight years left, the world needs to work four times faster to meet our promise.
How can people join the campaign?
On the official campaign website, a variety of resources is available to inspire and engage your friends, family and colleagues ahead of #WorldToiletDay 19 November 2022. A factsheet with facts and figures, posters, social media cards and branded materials are available in several languages.
In addition, the #MyGroundwaterStory video challenge is still open until 18 November 2022. Do you see the connections between sanitation and groundwater in your daily life? Share your story and perhaps you will be one of the five video messages shown at the opening ceremony of the UN-Water Summit on Groundwater 2022. More information about how to participate in the challenge is available here.