Green Cross launches Argentina and Ivory Coast sanitation projects to mark World Toilet Day

19 November 2012.

To coincide with today’s World Toilet Day, Green Cross International (GCI) is launching new sanitation projects in Ivory Coast and Argentina as part of a global campaign to address a sanitation crisis that sees over one-third of the world’s population – 2.5 billion people – live without access to basic toilets.

“World Toilet Day reminds us all that the absence of sanitation is not only a major public health issue for billions of people worldwide, but it also poses major social, economic and education challenges for communities, most of which are in the developing world,” says Marie-Laure Vercambre, Director of GCI’s Water for Life and Peace programme.

She adds: “And despite the major harm caused by the poor state of sanitation and hygiene facilities in many parts of the world, this crisis is still largely unknown by most people in more developed societies, where we take functioning toilets for granted. It is important to make people aware of this major developmental challenge, and gather more support, including international and public aid.”

Clean water and safe sanitation are fundamental for hygiene and life. Contaminated water and poor access to safe sanitation cause many diseases, including diarrhoeal, which are the second most common cause of death for young children in developing countries. Close to 700,000 children die annually – nearly 2,000 children every day – as a result of diarrhoea, more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

Green Cross is expanding its Smart Water for Green Schools project in Argentina and Ivory Coast. The project, which provides safe sustainable water and sanitation systems to communities in need, was established in 2010 and is already active in Bolivia, Ghana, and China.

Near the Ivory Coast economic capital of Abidjan, around 330 children attend the Debrimou village primary school, which currently has no latrines. Thanks to Green Cross, the school will now be equipped with dry ecological latrines and a rainwater harvesting system.

The Argentinian projects, sponsored by the Alstom Foundation and implemented by Green Cross Argentina, will provide sewage disposal to existing latrine blocks at six schools of the economically challenged Chubut Province in the Patagonian plateau. These facilities will treat water from latrines into a biotechnological reactor to make it usable for growing fruit and vegetables in greenhouses. More than 250 children, most from the Mapuche and Tehuelche communities, attend the six schools.

Community members are trained on the maintenance and construction of new sanitation and water systems in all Smart Water for Green Schools projects. An environmental, water and sanitation education programme will also be taught in both schools.

World Toilet Day was launched in 2001 to raise awareness on global sanitation issues and the alarming situation of the 2.5 billion people living with no access to a safe, hygienic and private toilet. World Toilet Day is part of a global movement to advocate for clean and safe sanitation.

GCI, founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993, is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization working to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty and environmental degradation through a combination of advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva and has a network of national organizations present in almost 30 countries located around the world.

Editor’s notes:
Sanitation situation in Argentina and Côte d’Ivoire

Sanitation in Argentina is characterized by high regional disparities across the country. In urban areas, 68% of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities, while communities in rural areas have no access to such facilities. Most communities rely on non-ecological latrines that contaminate groundwater tables, which is mainly caused by human waste and agrochemicals.

In Ivory Coast, access to clean and safe sanitation is low, like in most Sub-Saharan African countries. It is estimated that the average rate of access to sanitation is around 23% (36% in urban areas and 11% in rural).

About Smart Water for Green Schools:

The Smart Water for Green Schools (SWGS) project is Green Cross’s flagship on-the-ground activity for providing sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation to tens of thousands of people in Ghana, Bolivia, China and more countries in the future. Launched in 2010, the project also works to promote the sharing of water between countries that have access to the same source, in that way reducing tensions over this increasingly scarce resource. SWGS is currently providing safe drinking water to 48,000 people in Ghana, Bolivia and China.

About Alstom and the Alstom Foundation:

Alstom, a world leader in rail transport,  power generation  and transmission power  infrastructures, and  its 92.000 employees team up with local partners to carry out initiatives which serve to improve living conditions in communities located near the Group's facilities and project sites all around the world. Alstom Foundation for the environment, active since 2008,  supports these initiatives by funding projects focused on protecting and improving the environment.

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