COVID-19: A turning point to further sanitation justice?
Keywords:gendered sanitation trajectories, urban Africa, Intersectionality, wastewater, epidemiology, COVID-19
Sanitation has received increased attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the heterogeneity of infrastructures, investments, practices and needs that exist on the ground, have often been overlooked. Consequently, the intersecting inequalities shaping how COVID-19 and sanitation interact remain unaddressed. This paper suggests it is possible to move beyond ‘deficit narratives’, and to support pathways towards just sanitation for all women and men, girls and boys during and beyond the pandemic. Tracking down past, ongoing and projected sanitary arrangements, exploring the political economy of both grid and off-grid investments and promises, and paying attention to the diversity of needs and practices from an intersectional perspective that considers, among other things, class, gender, age, ethnicity and ability, are three directions to do so. Together, these three directions can account for how illness or health, poverty or prosperity, suffering or well-being, stigma or respect are generated for different people who are dependent on, or who are providing, sanitation services. COVID-19 marks a turning point to critically reframe how we talk and act upon just sanitation and to challenge long-term inequalities.
Ahmed R., Yesmin K. (2008). Menstrual hygiene : breaking the silence in: Beyond Construction use by all, a collection of case studies from sanitation and hygiene promotion practitioners in South Asia. IRC. p.283-287.
Allen A., Koroma B., Manda M., Osuteye E., Lambert R. (2019). “Urban risk readdressed: Bridging resilience seeking practices in African cities.” In: Burayidi M.A., Allen A., Twigg J., Wamsler C. (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Urban Resilience. London: Routledge
Barlow M., (2017). Finally facing our water-loo: it’s time to decolonise sewerage systems. [online] Available at: https://theconversation.com/finally-facing-our-water-loo-its-time-to-decolonise-sewerage-systems-78095 [Accessed 18 July 2020].
BBC (2020). Coronavirus: Kenyan boy who made hand-washing machine awarded. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-52898797 [Accessed 20 July 2020].
Black M., Fawcett K. (2008). The Last Taboo: Opening the Door on the Global Sanitation Crisis. Earthscan Publications Ltd, London, UK, and Sterling, VA, USA. p.224. ISBN: 978-1-84407-544-7
Chakravorty A. (2020). Fighting from the bottom, India’s sanitation workers are also frontline workers battling Covid. [online] Available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-sanitation-workers-waste-pickers-coronavirus-pandemic-6414446/ [Accessed 15 July 2020].
Duti V. (2020). A complex WASH sector could hamper Ghana’s fight against COVID-19. [online] Available at: https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-a-complex-wash-sector-could-hamper-ghana-s-fight-against-covid-19-97396 [Accessed 20 July 2020].
Farkas K., Hillary L.S., Malham S.K., McDonald J.E., Jones D.L. (2020). Wastewater and public health: the potential of wastewater surveillance for monitoring COVID-19. Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health, Volume 17, 2020, Pages 14-20, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coesh.2020.06.001.
Gormley M., Aspray T. J., Kelly D. A. (2020). COVID-19: mitigating transmission via wastewater plumbing systems. Lancet Global Health, 8(5), e643. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30112-1
Gunther I., Horst A., Lüthi C., Mosler H-J., Niwagaba C., Tumwebaze I. (2012). When is shared sanitation improved sanitation? The correlation between number of users and toilet hygiene. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.10422.09288.
Hanlon J. (2020). Covid-19: looking nervously over the border. Mozambique News Reports & Clippings number 494, 9 July 2020, edited by Joseph Hanlon. [online] Available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/technology/mozambique/news-reports-clippings-2020
Hart O.E., Halden R.U. (2020). Computational analysis of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 surveillance by wastewater-based epidemiology locally and globally: Feasibility, economy, opportunities and challenges. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 730, 2020, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720323925
Hofmann P. (2017). Multi-layered Trajectories of Water and Sanitation Poverty in Dar es Salaam. In: Bell S., Allen A., Hofmann P., Teh TH. (eds) Urban Water Trajectories. Future City, vol 6. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42686-0_7
Horton R. (2020). Offline: COVID-19 is not a pandemic. The lancet, Volume 396, ISSUE 10255, P874, September 26, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32000-6
INKWASH (2020). Women Leaders Water & Environmental Sanitation – Vol 1 [online] Available at: https://inkwash.in/women-leaders-water-environmental-sanitation-vol-1/ p.100
Kumbhare S. (2020). Sanitation Workers: At the Bottom of the Frontline Against COVID-19? [online] Available at: https://thewire.in/urban/sanitation-workers-covid-19 [Accessed 15 July 2020].
Li YY, Wang JX, Chen X. (2020). Can a toilet promote virus transmission? From a fluid dynamics perspective. Phys Fluids (1994). 2020;32(6):065107. https://doi:10.1063/5.0013318.
Parikh P. & Diep L., Hofmann P., Tomei J., Campos L., The T-H., Mulugetta Y., Milligan B., Lakhanpaul M. (2020). Synergies and Trade-offs between Sanitation and the Sustainable Development Goals. UCL Open: Environment. https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444/000054.v1.
Quilliam R.S., Weidmann M., Moresco V., Purshouse H., O'Hara Z., Oliver D.M. (2020). COVID-19: The environmental implications of shedding SARS-CoV-2 in human faeces. Environment International, Volume 140, July 2020, 105790, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.105790
Social Justice Coalition (2014). Our toilets are dirty. Report of the social audit into the Janitorial service for communal flush toilets in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. p.29. [online] Available at: https://sjc.org.za/resources/publications [Accessed 30 July 2020].
Street R., Malema S., Mahlangeni N., Mathee A. (2020). Wastewater surveillance for Covid-19: An African perspective, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 743, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140719.
Thompson J.A., Gaskin S.J., Agbor M. (2017). Embodied intersections: Gender, water and sanitation in Cameroon, Agenda, 31:1, 140-155, https://doi.org/10.1080/10130950.2017.1341158
Trottier J., Darques R., Ait Mouheb N., Partiot E., Bakhache W., Deffieu M.S., Gaudin R. (2020). Post-lockdown detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the wastewater of Montpellier. One Health, Volume 10, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.onehlt.2020.100157
UNICEF (2020). Mitigating the Impacts of COVID-19 on Menstrual Health and Hygiene. [online] Available at: https://www.unicef.org/documents/mitigating-impacts-covid-19-menstrual-health-and-hygiene [Accessed 10 July 2020].
UNICEF and WHO (2017). Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG baselines. Geneva. World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, p.110. Available at: https://www.unicef.org/publications/index_96611.html
WHO (2019). Sanitation – Key facts. [online] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sanitation [Accessed 4 July 2020].
WHO (2020). Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: implications for infection prevention precautions (Updated 9 July 2020). [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/transmission-of-sars-cov-2-implications-for-infection-prevention-precautions
WHO and UNICEF (2015). Sanitation facts [online] https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/coverage/sanitation2017-930px.jpg?ua=1 [Accessed 4 July 2020].
Xu Y., Li X., Zhu B., Liang H., Fang C., Gong Y., Guo Q., Sun X., Zhao D., Shen J., Zhang H., Liu H., Xia H., Tang J., Zhang K. & Gong S. (2020). Characteristics of pediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection and potential evidence for persistent fecal viral shedding. Nature Medicine volume 26, p. 502–505. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0817-4
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).