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Innovations, New Solutions Needed To End ‘Global Sanitation Crisis’

In this CNN opinion piece, Jenna Davis — a faculty member in Stanford University’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, where her research and teaching focuses on water, sanitation and health, and a former member of the U.N. Millennium Task Force for Water and Sanitation — reports on what she calls a “global sanitation crisis,” writing, “More than 40 percent of the world’s population does not have access to a toilet. These 2.6 billion people, most living in low- and middle-income countries in Asia and Africa, face the daily challenge of finding a bush, train track or empty lot where they can urinate and defecate in relative privacy.”

She examines why, given the noted benefits of improved sanitation, it has “proven so difficult to expand access to this essential service,” and writes that November 19 marked “the 10th anniversary of World Toilet Day, a day set aside not simply as a celebration of this most venerable and useful of technologies, but as a way to draw attention to the crisis and some possible solutions. … We need to trigger sanitation innovations that can benefit citizens of wealthy and poor countries, and also instigate systems that help protect the resource base they depend on for development” (11/19).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.