German Development Cooperation in the Sanitation Sector (Special 157)
Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Less than 150 years ago, wastewater in most German towns and cities was discarded into open gutters running along both sides of the street. Household sewage and industrial wastewater ended up untreated in rivers or lakes or infiltrated into the ground, thereby contaminating ground water. The level of odour pollution in towns and cities would have been unimaginable for people living in Germany nowadays. Diseases like cholera and typhus were widespread because contaminated water was used for drinking, cooking and washing. However, the situation improved rapidly and fundamentally with the introduction of sew-age systems and wastewater treatment plants as well as growing awareness of the importance of hygiene.
Even today, people in many of the partner coun-tries of German Development Cooperation can only dream of having their own toilets, hygienic living conditions and a clean environment. Each day more than 5,000 people around the world die from diarrhoeal diseases, most of them children.
Drinking water wells in Afghan towns and cities are contaminated with cholera bacteria. In the slums of Nairobi, people relieve themselves using “flying toilets” – plastic bags that are frequently used to defecate in and then thrown away be-cause of a lack of private toilets. Hundreds of mil-lions of people relieve themselves outside – also at night. Women run the risk of becoming victims of sexual crimes. These examples demonstrate how important dealing with excreta and wastewater (experts refer to this as sanitation and wastewater management) is for human development. None-theless, this issue has so far not been treated as a priority in the public arena, as the United Nations concluded in its 2006 Human Development Report.