I learned something new today. Until 1986, all of New York City’s poop went straight into the Hudson River on the upper west side of Manhattan or into the ocean untreated. We’ve come a long way since then. If you have 20 minutes, I highly recommend listening to this episodeof the Radio Lab podcast which maps the journey of 8 million people’s excrement–from the depths of a sewage plant, to train cars, to cowboys.
This year’s World Water Week, which ended Friday, was an eventful one where topics ranging from poop to Antarctica to partnership-building were all covered. World Water Week is a yearly conference in Stockholm which convenes thousands of experts, policy makers and water activists to discuss how we are doing and how to move forward in the world water crisis. Here’s a round up of news coverage on the event.
via World Water Week
Open Defecation Must No Longer Be Taboo Topic: When 40% of people don’t have a safe and healthy way to poop, their feces can contaminate water and further spread diseases that are already rampant and deadly, especially among children. So it’s a good thing this topic is getting major attention from policy makers during World Water Week. Here’s what the deputy UN secretary-general had to say on Monday: “We must break taboos. As was the case for the word ‘toilets’ a few years ago, it is time to incorporate ‘open defecation’ in the political language and in the diplomatic discourse.”
Chilean students win 2013 International Stockholm Junior Water Prize: Two students from Chile received the prize for their work on how living organisms can help clean oil spills in extremely low temperatures. The team travelled to Antarctica and managed to identify bacterial strains with the potential to clean up oil spills, by metabolizing it, in extremely low temperatures.
Competitors Must Collaborate on Water Risk Management: “More than 24 sessions dedicated to business show that the week’s theme of collaboration and partnerships can apply to profit-driven enterprises…In water, shared risk is shared responsibility. But doesn’t competition stifle collaboration on that responsibility? Coca-Cola, SABMiller, H&M and Borealis all say just the opposite.”
Could water markets encourage collaboration and reduce conflict?:The Guardian chimes in about water cooperation: “Markets are far from a solution to all problems, nor are they appropriate for all situations. However, they demonstrate the level of institutional innovation required to shift the world to a more sustainable path for water.”
By coming together to establish unexpected partnerships, grow local capacity, and improve monitoring of results and impact, we can find lasting solutions. We must look beyond simply installing water pumps, constructing latrines, and counting people reached and instead look toward innovative programs that put systems in place for permanent service delivery for generations to come.
♦ Gaining access to water isn’t as simple as turning on the tap for one in nine people on the planet. Read about one Heifer International volunteer taking a walk in the shoes of a young woman fetching water from a far off well. A Young Girl’s Mile Walk for Water