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Stockholm World Water Week: WECF puts Europe's sanitation problems on the agenda

WECF seminar at the World Water Week looks at urgent measures to provide safe sanitation for 20 million European citizens living in inacceptable bad hygienic circumstances

19.08.2008 |Chantal van den Bossche

WECF Executive Director presenting in Stockholm (Photos by Bogdan Macarol)

European Women’s organization WECF put safe and affordable sustainable sanitation in the EU on the agenda of the Stockholm World Water Week, which opened on Sunday, August 17. Press Report on the Seminar

His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange, enjoys the presentations at the WECF Seminar in Stockholm

A lack of safe sanitary facilities, causing water pollution and disease is still a daily practice for 20 to 23 million Europeans within the European Union. In some EU member states, like Romania, almost 40% of the population do not have access to safe sanitation. WECF focused with its seminar during the Stockholm World Water Week at the question why, with current policies and practices, it seems impossible to provide safe sanitation for all citizens of the European Union

International Year of Sanitation
Every year the water sector meets in Stockholm at the World Water Week. WECF was part of the Water Week Programme with a seminar on Tuesday, August 19, on the impossibility to help the more than 20 million European citizens who do no have access to safe sanitation. WECF, the pan-European network of Women’s and Environmental organizations, has taken this issue at heart as children in the European Union continue to fall ill from diseases linked to lack of sanitation and hygiene.

Safe toilets for all
Representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, NGOs, leading scientists and representatives of governments, debated on what policy changes are necessary, looking at barriers in legislation and markets for innovative decentralized wastewater technologies. Giving everybody safe sanitation cannot fail from lack of money, as not more than 3 billion Euros would be necessary to provide all 20 million people with a safe toilet, compared to the EU cohesion and structural fund budget of more than 300 billion is not that much. In the International Year of Sanitation 2008, we have to make "safe toilets for all" a priority issue: Europe needs a rural sanitation action plan!

Right to safe and affordable sanitation
The right to safe and affordable water and sanitation is one of the main missions of WECF, Women in Europe for a Common Future. WECF is a network of more than 100 organisations in 30 countries. They mobilize women to find affordable solutions to the environmental health problems in their communities and encourage women to participate in decision-making.

Ecological sanitation: a solution for Europe?
In order to visualise ecological sanitation WECF organised, following the seminar, together with the aid of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) an excursion to two eco villages in the vicinity of Stockholm, where urine diverting sanitation systems are implemented in full scale. The visit took the participants to Gebers, a condominium housing where 35 appartment ts in a multi-storey builing have urine diverting toilets. In Gebers faeces are collected and composted on-site and  and urine is collected for reuse in agriculture.

WECF Press Releases from the Stockholm Water Week

Press Report on the Seminar
WECF attracts funding via new online mini-grant portal

Press Coverage on WECF

Interview on WECF's seminar for Business News Radio, the Netherlands (in Dutch)

Interview with Sascha Gabizon (WECF) and Diana Iskreva (Earth Forever Foundation Bulgaria) for Agence France Press

Article on WECF's contribution to World Water Week by Courtney Tenz, Deutsche Welle

Useful documents:

The programme of the seminar: "Europe's Sanitation Problem - 20 million European citizens need access to safe sanitation"

The discussion paper on "Europe's Sanitation Problem - 20 million European citizens need access to safe sanitation"

A WECF film on sanitation conditions in new EU memberstates. The film, produced by WECF with Earth Forever Bulgaria and Rapsode France, not only shows  current sanitation problems in the EU and policy changes, but also how modern low cost approaches can provide an immediate solution to the health and environmental problems related to sanitation in rural areas in Eastern Europe.

Other related information:
Report of the Brussels High Level conference on Europe’s sanitation policies and practices in the International Year of Sanitation

Website World Water Week

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