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Sanitation in East TimorEast Timor is a Southeast Asian country that is located on the eastern half of the island of Timor. Detrimental health and sanitation in the country, alongside the household effects of unsanitary water management, have notably impacted East Timor’s agricultural-based economy. Sanitation in East Timor has thus become vital to national rehabilitation projects.

East Timor has a long history of colonial and other foreign occupation; however, the nation has been independent since 2002. From the point of liberation in 2002 until 2008, the country experienced violent policing and political upheaval. This came as a result of unrest regarding national security. Instability led to the involvement of an Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) and the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). These peacekeeping forces remained active in East Timor until 2008 when rebels within the country lost power. Since 2008, the country has experienced steadiness in national security, presidential guidance and rebuilding of important infrastructure like sanitation.

10 Facts About Sanitation in East Timor

  1. The stabilization of governance within East Timor has enabled rectification of sanitation infrastructure. After East Timor gained independence in 2002, economic destabilization had a lasting impact on the country’s ability to invest in renovating sanitation infrastructure. Oil revenue in the country, along with agricultural revenue, has struggled to increase over the past 15 years. In addition to governmental stabilization, aid from multiple international programs supports sanitation development in East Timor.
  2. East Timor’s governmental efforts to address water sanitation have stabilized urban access to clean drinking water. Of the 1.18 million people living in East Timor, 30% of the population lives in urban centers. The 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation in East Timor was set at 75% improved access to water sources and 55% improved sanitation. In terms of the urban population, just 9% live without access to improved water sources; 27% live without access to improved sanitation. As of 2015, sanitation in East Timor’s urban areas had reached MDG targets.
  3. Sanitation in East Timor’s rural regions is a work in progress. While urban water sanitation initiatives to reach MDG targets have successfully brought clean drinking water and waste management to urban cities, the remaining 70% of the population of the country is often without reliable access. Data shows that 40% of the rural population remains without access to clean water sources and 70% without improved sanitation. Because MDG goals were not met in rural East Timor, governmental plans for extending access to sanitary water into rural parts of the country have been implemented with the goal of completion by 2030.
  4. Reconfiguration of irrigation infrastructure is key to increased crop output from rural workers. Stabilization of irrigation consists of routing water from the river weirs to crop fields. In addition, it also includes the management of crop flooding as a result of natural disasters within the country. The importance of an updated irrigation system is central to the stabilization of the agro-based rural economy of East Timor.
  5. Rural agricultural workers have experienced personal benefits from the restoration of sanitation infrastructure. Because 70% of the population lives in rural regions of East Timor, agricultural-based livelihoods dominate the workforce. Nearly 42% of rural farmers live in poverty and rely on independent subsistence practices for food. Not only does crop output better the independent livelihood of agricultural workers, but it also provides a source of sustainable local subsistence.
  6. While education represents 10% of the overall GDP expenditure in East Timor, many schools continue to lack access to sanitary water. According to UNICEF, 60% of primary schools and middle schools have access to improved water sources, though 30% do not have access to functioning waste facilities. UNICEF is implementing a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program in order to create sustainable community habits of maintaining waste facilities. This initiative is expected to increase community sanitary habits, health and enrollment rates throughout the country.
  7. Bringing a sanitary water supply to health outposts in rural East Timor has been a focus of the country’s health administrators. Around 50% of rural health centers are without access to clean water. In response, the WASH program from UNICEF is working locally to improve sanitation in health centers. WaterAid is working with local health facilities to improve maternal health outcomes by providing resources for sanitary reproduction.
  8. The Ministry of Health in East Timor has set a goal to entirely alleviate the issue of open defecation across the country by the end of 2020. UNICEF statistics show that around 170 communities, along with a 21,000-household municipality, have been open-defecation free with the organization’s support.
  9. Diarrhea-related deaths have decreased as a result of improved water sanitation in East Timor. Data shows that diarrhea-related deaths decreased by 30.7% between 2007 and 2017. With UNICEF’s WASH program, the incidence of chronic diarrhea will decrease as poor water sanitation is resolved. UNICEF is focused on alleviating poor quality drinking water in five rural municipalities in particular.
  10. Childhood malnutrition rates related to water sanitation in East Timor decreased by 1%. World Bank data from 2013 claims that just over 50% of children in East Timor were stunted in growth as a result of malnutrition; in 2014, reports showed that 49.2% of children had signs of stunted growth. In a single year, steady improvement to water sanitation within the country decreased rates of childhood malnutrition.

Lilia Wilson
Photo: Flickr

The country of Jordan is the fifth most water-scarce country in the world, following Iran, and is labeled at an “extremely high” risk level. With water scarcity comes multiple risk factors, including water-borne illnesses caused by unsafe drinking water, diseases from a lack of sanitation and death by dehydration. In addition, water scarcity contributes to an increase in sexual exploitation and rape, as children, especially young girls, need to physically travel miles every day through deserts and dangerous terrain to retrieve water for their families. This then contributes to a decrease in education among girls and perpetuates the cycle of poverty in areas in Jordan and globally. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Jordan.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Jordan

  1. Climate change affects sanitation in Jordan. In most areas of the country, populations are not located near major water sources and water must be transported from distances up to 325 kilometers away. With the rise of climate change causing flash floods, unpredictable and extreme weather patterns and increased temperatures, Jordan faces difficulties accessing necessary sanitation services.
  2. Jordan faces severe water scarcity. According to UNICEF, “Jordan’s annual renewable water resources are less than 100m3 [meters cubed] per person.” This is 400 meters cubed below the threshold of 500 meters cubed, which defines water scarcity.

  3. As a result of an increase in population and industrial and agricultural capacity, Jordan is dealing with severe aquifer depletion. All 12 of Jordan’s main aquifers are declining at rates exceeding 20 meters per year, well beyond their rechargeable volumes. This is especially alarming as 60% of Jordan’s water comes from the ground.

  4. Those in vulnerable and rural areas lack sanitation resources. Proper hygiene norms, such as handwashing and showering, are taught and practiced in households. However, those in more vulnerable and rural areas often lack soap and body wash to stay clean and healthy.

  5. A large percentage of the population in Jordan don’t have access to water. Only 58% of households have direct access to a sewer connection. In comparison to the nearly half of the population in Jordan, only 0.46% of the United States population does not have access to proper plumbing services. This is an especially prevalent issue in rural areas in Jordan, where only 6% of households have a sewer connection.

  6. The Syrian refugee crisis has greatly increased the population in Jordan. As Jordan borders Syria, it has become a safe haven for more than 670,000 refugees of the Syrian civil war. Having accepted the second-highest amount of refugees in the world compared to its population in 2018, this sudden increase in population means added pressure on resources and infrastructure, as well as an increase in air pollution and waste production.

  7. The water network in Jordan has inadequate infrastructure, needing major rehabilitation. Pumps and sewer lines are old and aging. Unfortunately, Jordan’s already scarce water supply is paying the price, with up to 70% of water transported from aquifers through old pumps being lost in the northern areas of Jordan due to water leakage.
  8. The increase in population, agriculture and industry in Jordan has led to an increase in pollution and toxicity in Jordan’s water supply. Upstream abstractions of groundwater have led to an increase in salinity. Unregulated pesticides and fertilizers used for farming have exposed the water supply to dangerous nitrates and phosphorus through runoff. In addition, it is reported that about 70% of Jordan’s spring water is biologically contaminated.

  9. Foreign aid plays a positive role in improving sanitation in Jordan. To mitigate the aforementioned effects threatening Jordan’s water supply and working towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, USAID works in conjunction with the government of Jordan to build sustainable water and wastewater infrastructure, train hundreds of water experts in Jordan, promote water conservation and strengthen water governance.

  10. Profound progress is seen in the increase in access to water, hygiene services and sanitation in Jordan. From 2000 to 2015, 2,595,670 people gained access to safely managed water services and 2,212,419 people gained access to safely managed sanitation services. In addition, homelessness in Jordan is very rare, meaning open defecation and the illnesses associated with homelessness are less prevalent.

Despite Jordan’s desert climate, clean water and efficient sanitation are achievable and make up the groundwork of global prosperity. Sanitation in Jordan is of the utmost priority in ensuring that Jordan can become a durable consumer and competitor of leading nations.

 Sharon Shenderovskiy
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Denmark
Access to sanitation services is often restricted by socioeconomic status, even in the most developed countries in the world. Fortunately, Denmark is an example of a country that found ways to overcome the struggle for a clean environment among impoverished communities. Denmark uses different teams of environmental experts, new technologies and a preventative approach to pollution. This has led to success in providing sanitation and clean water to its citizens. Here are eight facts about sanitation in Denmark.

8 Facts About Sanitation in Denmark

  1. Poverty and sanitation are directly related. Denmark has a poverty rate of about 0.20%. Poverty can be linked to sanitation because lower-income means fewer options for water sources and hygiene products. A lower-income family living in an area with unclean water may not be able to afford bottled water. However, as described below, Denmark has taken steps to ensure that all of its citizens have access to clean water and sanitation.
  2. It is common to drink tap water in Denmark. Citizens of Denmark have no qualms about drinking straight out of their own sinks because the water is clean and trustworthy. Morten Kabell, Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs, even argues that public drinking water in Denmark is considered cleaner than bottled water. This reduces major costs to families who would otherwise need to buy their own water, which can trap someone in the cycle of poverty.
  3. Clean water became a cultural priority in the 1970s. Despite its current successes, Denmark’s history regarding clean water is not perfect. Before the 1970s, citizens of Copenhagen were often exposed to polluted water, which was unsafe for drinking and swimming. In 1971, Denmark established the Environmental Ministry, whose main task was to reduce pollution. The Ministry met with representatives from other countries the following year where they drew up the Stockholm Declaration. It is the first document recognizing access to a clean environment as a fundamental human right. Now, 50 years later, Copenhagen citizens of all socioeconomic statuses have access to clean resources.
  4. Denmark uses a prevention model, rather than a treatment model. When it comes to protecting its citizens from contamination by toxic substances, the Danish EPA’s policy is based on prevention instead of treatment. This means that while Denmark possesses the ability to monitor and decontaminate various forms of matter, its primary goal is to prevent contamination in the first place by reducing emissions of air pollutants and pollution of their water supply. As a result, low income communities are less likely to endure the negative effects of pollution. This allows them a more equal chance to climb the socioeconomic ladder.
  5. A majority of the population in Copenhagen sorts some types of waste. The latest reports on Copenhagen’s biowaste report that about 78% of residents in Copenhagen are willing to sort their biowaste. Beyond just recycling versus trash, the sorting system in Copenhagen often includes more detailed subcategories. The author of The Copenhagen Tales reported that it is typical for apartment buildings to have four categories for waste: paper, plastic, biodegradable and residual. Sorting biowaste is the norm in Copenhagen for citizens of all socioeconomic backgrounds. There is no clear link between income and recycling habits.
  6. Denmark hopes to recycle 70% of all waste by the year 2024. Denmark produces the most municipal waste (everyday trash) per person when compared to other European countries. However, in 2015, Denmark announced its plan to recycle 70% of all waste produced by 2024. While this is ambitious, the country has already begun using waste for more beneficial and sanitary purposes. For example, converting waste into fertilizer alternatives. This is important for the economy because many Danish people work in agriculture. In addition, Danish people who work in agriculture must expose themselves to potentially hazardous substances (like fertilizer) to make a living. Thus, the conversion of waste to fertilizer can decrease pollutant exposure in more vulnerable communities.
  7. All of the Danish population has access to sanitation services. According to a report from 2018, 100% of the people in Denmark use safely-managed sanitation services. This includes access to soap, clean water and a bath or shower. Because of its successes, Denmark’s poorer populations have a better chance of thriving.
  8. Denmark helps other countries with their sanitation problems. As Denmark has a reputation for its clean water access, countries have turned to Denmark for help. South Africa, for example, turned to Denmark during severe water shortages in 2015. Clean water was being wasted in many homes due to burst pipes and other structural issues, especially among lower-income communities. As a result, South Africa’s Water and Sanitation Minister met with Denmark’s Environment and Food Production Minister to solve the problem together. The two countries continue to cooperate in an effort to manage water and sanitation.

The triumphs of sanitation in Denmark are one example of how taking care of basic needs can improve the lives of people across the socioeconomic spectrum. With cleaner water, air and other resources, impoverished people have a better chance of avoiding disease, death, injury and developmental problems that perpetuate the cycle of poverty. The successes of sanitation in Denmark overlap with their economical successes and their hope for the future.

Levi Reyes
Photo: Flickr