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Homepage / Sanitation… small actions big impact

Sanitation… small actions big impact


Close up of water treatment pipes

For the past two weeks, I have been exploring the Hygiene, Health and Sanitation module of my course Water and Sanitation for Development MSc and my oh my, it is mind-blowing. This is a field most people usually don’t want to talk about, ah hey guys I am no different but it is a really important topic to discuss. I say so because we all practice it every morning before stepping out. Activities like brushing your teeth, bathing, visiting the washroom, which is on a personal note, through to vacuuming, waste collection and disposal are all factors that affect our daily lives directly or indirectly. These seemly unimportant factors are the last to be done or first to be done each day in our homes or offices which says a lot.

Nobody would feel comfortable coming to work in an unclean space, it would put you off immediately. All your ideas for the day will literally vanish into thin air because of the feeling of disgust. But the reality is most people live in this state of disgust all their lives. I have witnessed some personally and getting to know about it this past two weeks has overwhelmed me. Prof. Sean Tyrell led this module. It is very difficult to describe an impressive mind and personality such as he has, a cool champ, we were fortunate and pleased to have him teach us. I also enjoyed the company of Dr. Foye a hygiene expert from Oxfam who brought to bear the reality on the ground in many countries of the world which was really insightful. The state of sanitation both in developed and particularly in developing countries is something no matter your field you must be concerned about because we all contribute to waste production unless of course, you don’t eat which I guess is otherwise.

Sanitation has the power to shut down all working areas. Aircraft, for instance, need to be cleaned immediately after touching down to get it ready for the next flight. If it is not cleaned, no one boards. The engineer no matter how dirty his/her work area can be, still expects it clean the next morning. Same for those in suit and nice ties working in skyscrapers in London, New York and Dubai. Therefore something with such power must be dealt with and efficiently for that matter.  Thousands of people die weekly, and for children under 5 years in some areas, every minute as a result of diarrhoea cases. This is a global threat and not living in those areas doesn’t mean you are not affected because we live in a global village in today’s world where every single decision affects another. And the last time I checked the air had no boundaries. Some contributory factors identified for the poor state of sanitation around the world include political instability, cultural norms, lack of financial resources, religion, personal beliefs (which is very difficult to change), high illiteracy, availability of technology rate, among others.

Tackling the sanitation menace is a preventive approach which should be highly encouraged instead of the curative approach of supplying medicines to affected communities after harm has been done. It is a sector with immense market, where for every $1 invested in sanitation an amount of $9 can be accrued from it. Sanitation economy in India alone is estimated to be $60 billion in the next few decades. This means that sanitation (solid waste management) cannot be left to practitioners alone to handle. Yes, practitioners are the front runners but what really matters is the support and goodwill they get from every single person who has decided to be a change maker in their own small way no matter their field of endeavour.

I have been able to gain this insight from Cranfield University (a leading University in the world in terms of Water science) through the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship scheme. I entreat any young person looking for such opportunities to look out for that of next year’s cohort (2019/2020). It will provide you the opportunity to learn and interact with the best. It is amazing because sanitation has a domino effect for example if everyone in this world enjoys a clean and safe toilet facility many precious lives would be saved. Improving the health sector where millions of dollars are spent yearly on drugs as a result of water and sanitation related diseases. There will be more healthy people leading to high productivity which affects all the economic sectors in the world. I don’t know about you, but I think this is very beneficial to the world, so that we can invest in more money in making our environment greener, fresher and better for us all to enjoy. I hope you have been steered up enough in this short write up to be a staunch supporter of sanitation wherever whatever and however means possible so that together we can make our world a better place to live. Peace.

Daniel Akrofi

Written By: Cranfield University

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