New estimate: at least 930 000 persons in US cities lacked sustained access to at least basic sanitation (in the United States)

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  • KaiMikkel
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~500,000 households in the U.S.A. lack adequate water and sanitation

A population roughly the size of Malta's and all residing within the boarders of the wealthiest country on earth (the United States of America) does not have access to adequate sanitation and water:

www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/health/plumbi...-states-poverty.html
Kai Mikkel Førlie

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  • canaday
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Re: ~500,000 people in the U.S.A. lack adequate water and sanitation

Hi Kai,

Good article and big problem. Maybe we can help them somehow.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
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Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
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  • ddiba
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Re: ~500,000 people in the U.S.A. lack adequate water and sanitation

Thanks for sharing this insightful piece Kai.

It actually turns out that the numbers may be much higher than 500k since the article says;

Nearly half a million households in the United States lack the basic dignity of hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower, or a working flush toilet, according to the Census Bureau.

Depending on household sizes, the affected numbers may be up to a couple of million individuals which is quite a huge problem!

Considering the slow pace of sewer connections and funding problems, I would think there is need to explore much cheaper onsite technologies that are appropriate for the Tyler area which don't depend on soil infiltration.
Daniel Ddiba
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: ~500,000 households in the U.S.A. lack adequate water and sanitation

I happened to come across this thread just after recently looking at the latest figures for access to water and sanitation in the U.S on Wikipedia.

It was actually a coincidence as I was looking at some great edits which one of our edit-a-thon participants made on Wikipedia. This person added information and links to WASHwatch to country water profile articles - WASHwatch is a convenient website that makes data from JMP and other sources easily available at a country level.

So for the country water profile article on Wikipedia about the U.S. it says here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_water_sup...United_States#Access

About 2.7 million people in the U.S. still lack access to "improved" water as of 2015. In the same year, 36,000 people lacked accessed to "improved" sanitation.[96][97]

However, I thought let me double check what the figures for Germany say on the same website. So I went here: washwatch.org/en/countries/germany/summary/statistics/
and it says 100,000 people lacking access to improved water sources in Germany and 644,000 lacking access to improved sanitation. Half a million. So I wonder a bit how this figure came about. Would this perhaps be counting the homeless people in Germany? Or nowadays perhaps also those in refugee homes while their claims for asylum are being assessed (i.e. using shared toilets)? It's more than I expected that's for sure.

Anyway, just thought this data about the situation in wealthy countries was interesting.

If you have questions about WASHWatch you can also ask here on the forum where they have posted before:
forum.susana.org/component/kunena/183-mo...on-and-communication

Regards,
Elisabeth


P.S. I have corrected the thread title, it was "500,000 people" but should be "500,000 households" as Daniel (ddiba) pointed out.
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Re: ~500,000 households in the U.S.A. lack adequate water and sanitation

Hi all,

Just to clear up some questions from WASHwatch - there has been a bit of confusion as to how we portray our access figures due to differences in . & ,
The actual access figures from the Joint Monitoring Programme by WHO & UNICEF are
US Lack access to improved water: 2 686 000
US Lack access to improved sanitation: 36 110
Germany Lack access to improved water: 0
Germany Lack access to improved sanitation: 644 000

In response to this feedback we will be changing the way we portray the figures to clarify this. (We're also going back through the wikipedia pages now and making sure they are reflecting the correct figiures)

Hopefully this makes sense on the access figures.

Amy

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Re: ~500,000 households in the U.S.A. lack adequate water and sanitation

With regard to the US & Germany question: It is extremely interesting looking at the stats and working out where those figures are coming from. Whilst homeless populations would account for this figure, looking a bit more into the figures from Germany all of the ‘unimpoved’ levels are from of ‘shared sanitation’ which refers to sanitation facilities of an improved kind but shared between two or more houses. This is more apparent in urban areas than rural.
And whereas in the US levels of unimproved sanitation have decreased from 1 265 100 in 1990 to 36 100 now (note the lack or punctuation at all for clarity!), levels in Germany have only had a slight decrease since 1990.

Amy

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Toilet Troubles in the United States

Toilet Troubles in the United States

Toilet problems are common in developing countries. The discharge pipes from the toilets are broken, and excreta flow out in the environment. This is everyday sight in Karachi, Pakistan

However, it seems, toilet blues exit in the United States, as well. A New York Times post gives an overview of the problem:

www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/health/plumbi...-states-poverty.html

Some points from the NY post:

Paying to put in a septic tank would cost around $6,000

In Lowndes County, part of a strip of mostly poor, majority-black counties that cuts through the rural center of Alabama, about one in five American homes are not on city sewer lines.

Many people have failing septic tanks and are too poor to fix them. Others, like Ms. Rudolph, have nothing at all.

Nearly half a million households in the United States lack the basic dignity of hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower, or a working flush toilet, according to the Census Bureau.

We didn’t have anything — no running water, no inside bathrooms, said John Jackson, a former mayor of White Hall, a town of about 800 in Lowndes that is more than 90 percent black and did not have running water until the early 1980s. Those were things we were struggling for.

Cheryl Ball in her trailer home in Tyler, Ala. Ms. Ball can’t afford a septic tank, so she runs a plastic pipe that empties waste behind her property.

These are some of the extracts I have taken. There are more in the NY Post.

There are many influential NGOs and CBOs in US, who can come to the aid of the people, who cannot afford to pay for the appurtenances.

F H Mughal
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Toilet Troubles in the United States

Mughal, I have moved your post into this existing thread because Kai already highlighted this New York Times Article to us in September 2016.
It's good though to bring it back to the top of the pile again. I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers are higher by now.
Just because a country is "rich" in terms of average GDP per person doesn't mean there aren't many people who live below the poverty line (especially in the US).

Related thread:
- Sanitation for the homeless in the US: forum.susana.org/180-urban-informal-sett...e-homeless-in-the-us
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: New estimate: at least 930 000 persons in US cities lacked sustained access to at least basic sanitation (in the United States

I am continuing this existing thread from 2016 which discusses the situation in the United States with regards to access to sanitation services.

There is a new study out which updates the figures: 

Water and Sanitation in Urban America, 2017–2019
Drew Capone  BEng,  Oliver Cumming  MSc,  Dennis Nichols  MPH, and  Joe Brown  PhD
https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2020.305833

Objectives. To estimate the population lacking at least basic water and sanitation access in the urban United States.

Methods.
 We compared national estimates of water and sanitation access from the World Health Organization/United Nations Children’s Fund Joint Monitoring Program with estimates from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on homelessness and the American Community Survey on household water and sanitation facilities.

Results.
 We estimated that at least 930 000 persons in US cities lacked sustained access to at least basic sanitation and 610 000 to at least basic water access, as defined by the United Nations.

Conclusions.
 After accounting for those experiencing homelessness and substandard housing, our estimate of people lacking at least basic water equaled current estimates (n = 610 000)—without considering water quality—and greatly exceeded estimates of sanitation access (n = 28 000).

Public Health Implications.
 Methods to estimate water and sanitation access in the United States should include people experiencing homelessness and other low-income groups, and specific policies are needed to reduce disparities in urban sanitation. We recommend similar estimation efforts for other high-income countries currently reported as having near universal sanitation access.

Not good!

Elisabeth
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