Learning from history: Sanitation for prosperity

This story accompanies the UNICEF-WHO State of the World’s Sanitaton report launched on 19 November 2020. This report, aims to draw attention to the sanitation crisis, bring together lessons from high-achieving countries, and presenting a vision of what is needed to deliver universal access to safe sanitation.

<p style="text-align:center;"><span style="background-color:transparent;text-align:inherit;text-transform:inherit;white-space:inherit;word-spacing:normal;caret-color:auto;">By </span>Kelly Ann Naylor &amp; Bruce Gordon, Heads of WASH for UNICEF and WHO</p><p style="text-align:center;">&nbsp;</p><p><span style="background-color:transparent;text-align:inherit;text-transform:inherit;white-space:inherit;word-spacing:normal;caret-color:auto;">The disposal and treatment of human waste has been an integral part of human civilization for thousands of years. From Mesopotamia&rsquo;s first clay sewage pipes in 4000 BCE, to indoor plumbing in ancient Rome, to flush toilets in the Industrial Revolution, sanitation has helped human health, development and economic prosperity.</span><br /></p><p>Sanitation is also a human right &ndash; recognized by the United Nations as fundamental and inherent to all human beings. <br /></p><p>But today, billions of people still do not enjoy the right to sanitation. Despite progress, over half of the world&rsquo;s population, 4.2 billion people, use sanitation services that leave human waste untreated, threatening both human and environmental health. Approximately 673 million people have no toilets at all and practice open defecation, while 367 million school-age children lack a toilet at school. The consequences of poor sanitation are devastating to public health and social and economic development. </p><p>&nbsp;With only 10 years left until 2030, the rate at which access to sanitation is increasing will need to quadruple if the world is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) sanitation target. Yet at the current rate of progress, it will be the twenty-second century before sanitation for all is a reality. Clearly this is too slow. &nbsp;In the meantime, while investment in sanitation is delayed, the higher costs to the health system, to economy though lost productivity and to a degraded environment mount up. </p><p>&nbsp;While the challenge often seems insurmountable, history shows that it is possible &ndash; sanitation can be a success story. Many countries have made rapid progress in sanitation coverage within a generation, transforming lives, the environment and the economy. In the 1960s and 1970s, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand produced rapid and remarkable results to achieve total sanitation coverage. More recently, countries such as Ethiopia, India and Nepal have dramatically reduced open defecation and made progress towards universal access to basic sanitation &ndash; to name just a few. </p><p>What can we learn from these sanitation champions? For starters, every country that has made rapid progress has had strong political leadership, with governments playing an important role in policy, planning, mobilizing investment and regulating services. And there is a good reason that governments are so interested in this topic: history shows us that no country has achieved high income status without first investing in sanitation.</p><p>Many governments have also realized that though achieving universal access to safe sanitation will be expensive, inaction brings even greater costs. Without sanitation, recurrent and preventable healthcare costs increase, income and educational opportunities are squandered, productivity is lost, and the environmental pollution grows. Investments in sanitation &ndash; particularly safely-managed sanitation services &ndash; avert these costs and generate positive externalities across society. The economic benefits of sanitation have been estimated at about five times the cost.</p><p><span style="background-color:transparent;font-family:inherit;text-align:inherit;text-transform:inherit;white-space:inherit;word-spacing:normal;caret-color:auto;font-size:inherit;">To accelerate progress, sanitation must be defined as an essential public good. When governments take this view and accelerate investment in sanitation services, they can help to ensure that all of society reaps the benefits rather than just the privileged few.</span></p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong>What does this look like in practice? Success comes through investment in five key "accelerators"<strong>:</strong></p><ul><li>Good <strong>governance</strong>, beginning with strong political leadership, effective coordination and regulation</li><li>Smart public <strong>finance</strong> to lay the foundation for safe sanitation services, support the most vulnerable, and attract private investment</li><li><strong>Capacity building</strong> across the sanitation sector, including training, human resources development, organizational development, research and innovation.</li><li>Reliable <strong>data</strong> for better decision-making and stronger accountability</li><li><strong>Innovation</strong> to unlock better approaches and meet emerging challenges like urbanization and climate change</li></ul><p>These accelerators are defined in detail in the new UNICEF- <a target="_blank" href="https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240014473">WHO State of the World&rsquo;s Sanitation repor</a>t, launching today. Through this report, we aim to draw attention to the sanitation crisis, bring together lessons from high-achieving countries, and presenting a vision of what is needed to deliver universal access to safe sanitation. We are calling on Member States, the United Nations system and partners to urgently rise to these challenges.</p>The world has come so far since ancient civilizations discovered the criticality of sanitation. With just ten years to go until the SDG target of 2030, we must continue to work together towards achieving universal access to safe sanitation. <div><div><div id="_com_1" language="JavaScript"><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

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Joint Statement on Data Protection and Privacy in the COVID-19 Response

Jum Nov 20 , 2020
<p><em>The United Nations, IOM, ITU, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNOPS, UPU, UN Volunteers, UN Women, WFP and WHO support the adoption of the following joint statement, in line with the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles  adopted by the UN System Organizations to support its use of data and technology in the COVID-19 response in a way that respects the right to privacy and other human rights and promotes economic and social development.</em><br> <br> The COVID-19 pandemic has become a global emergency, with devastating consequences in terms of loss of life and economic decline, and significantly hampering progress toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Poor and vulnerable communities are particularly imperiled by this deadly disease and its economic ramifications.</p> <p>Mounting evidence demonstrates that the collection, use, sharing and further processing of data can help limit the spread of the virus and aid in accelerating the recovery, especially through digital contact tracing. Mobility data derived from people’s usage of mobile phones, emails, banking, social media, postal services, for instance, can assist in monitoring the spread of the virus and support the implementation of the UN System Organizations’ mandated activities.<a href="https://www.who.int/#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1">[1]</a></p> <p>Such data collection and processing, including for digital contact tracing and general health surveillance, may include the collection of vast amounts of personal and non-personal sensitive data. This could have significant effects beyond the initial crisis response phase, including, if such measures are applied for purposes not directly or specifically related to the COVID-19 response, potentially leading to the infringement of fundamental human rights and freedoms. This concern is especially pressing if some emergency measures introduced to address the pandemic, such as digital contact tracing, are turned into standard practice.</p> <p>The UN Secretary-General highlighted in his<a href="https://unsdg.un.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/COVID-19-and-Human-Rights.pdf"> policy brief</a> on human rights and COVID-19 that “Human rights are key in shaping the pandemic response, both for the public health emergency and the broader impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Human rights put people centre-stage. Responses that are shaped by and respect human rights result in better outcomes in beating the pandemic, ensuring healthcare for everyone and preserving human dignity.”</p> <p>Any data collection, use and processing by UN System Organizations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic should be rooted in human rights and implemented with due regard to applicable international law, data protection and privacy principles, including the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles. Any measures taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic should also be consistent with the mandates of the respective UN System Organizations and take into account the balancing of relevant rights, including the right to health and life and the right to economic and social development.</p> <p>Taking into account the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles, the UN Secretary-General’s<a href="https://unsdg.un.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/COVID-19-and-Human-Rights.pdf"> policy brief</a> on human rights and COVID-19, and relevant health and humanitarian standards, data collection, use and processing by  UN System Organizations in their operations should, at a minimum:</p> <ul> <li>Be lawful, limited in scope and time, and necessary and proportionate to specified and legitimate purposes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;</li> <li>Ensure appropriate confidentiality, security, time-bound retention and proper destruction or deletion of data in accordance with the aforementioned purposes;</li> <li>Ensure that any data exchange adheres to applicable international law, data protection and privacy principles, and is evaluated based on proper due diligence and risks assessments;</li> <li>Be subject to any applicable mechanisms and procedures to ensure that measures taken with regard to data use are justified by and in accordance with the aforementioned principles and purposes, and cease as soon as the need for such measures is no longer present; and</li> <li>Be transparent in order to build trust in the deployment of current and future efforts alike.</li> </ul> <p>A coordinated and inclusive global UN-wide response rooted in solidarity is necessary to contain the pandemic and minimize its negative impact across the world. Although the statement is aimed to address the challenges of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it may serve as a precedent for using data to respond to any future crises of a similar scale quickly and while respecting data protection and privacy.</p> <div><br> <hr align="left" size="1" width="33%"> <div> <p><a href="https://www.who.int/#_ftnref1" name="_ftn1">[1]</a> WHO issued “Ethical considerations to guide the use of digital proximity tracking technologies for COVID-19 contact tracing”. More information can be found at https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-Ethics_Contact_tracing_apps-2020.1</p> </div> </div>