• Tuesday 18 Oct 2016
  • Urban Dignity: Equal Access to Sanitation and Hygiene in Public Spaces

    Side Events
    Venue: R8
    Lead Organization:
    • Water Supply And Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
    Partner Organizations:
    • Federal Ministry Of Environment,
    • Nepal; Minister Of Parliament,
    • Nigeria; Ministry Of Water Resources And Sanitation,
    • Senegal; Ministry Of National Development,
    • Singapore; Ministry Of Urban Development,
    • Slum Dwellers International,
    • United Republic Of Tanzania; World Health Organization; UN-Habitat And SCA.

    Most public spaces in Africa, Asia and Latin America lack basic sanitation and hygiene. This is true for public schools, soccer pitches, transport hubs or open markets in towns and for parks, gardens, railway stations, and municipal squares in major cities. Women fear public toilets. They deny themselves food before entering public spaces to remove the need to defecate. During menstruation, girls and women skip school, markets, workplaces, and public transportation. The disabled, children, pregnant women, and the elderly suffer a similar fate. Without sanitation options, they avoid public spaces and their economic and social benefits. This is especially problematic for the very poor and socially marginalized for whom public sanitation is often the only form of sanitation. The more fortunate are also deterred from entering public spaces. Poor sanitation and hygiene bring environmental degradation, insecurity and even crime, undermining the tranquility of public spaces. As individuals and entrepreneurs, society’s better off neither engage nor invest, relax nor interact. Poor sanitation and hygiene in public spaces undermines the social fabric of human settlements. Investing in sanitation and hygiene in public spaces is not a panacea for sustainable development but it brings tangible results at modest cost. Improved facilities make public spaces more inclusive of women and men, old and young, disabled and mobile, addressing problems of stigma and exclusion. Improvements in environmental health attract people of all backgrounds and channel private investment in residential and commercial real estate. The Side Event examines urban dignity from three perspectives: people who lack access to sanitation and must develop coping mechanisms; innovative approaches to improve public sanitation, including methods of involving previously excluded populations in planning along with urban planners and small business entrepreneurs; and national policy options that engender urban dignity and create incentives and opportunities to improve public spaces.