Inaugural portable sanitation day kicks off this month!
The portable sanitation industry is sometimes the butt of bad jokes. But what many people don’t realize is that the industry is a very necessary part of solving some of the world’s biggest sanitation needs.
Jake Groen is general manager for PolyJohn Canada. He’s also a Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI) board member and has been involved in planning the very first World Portable Sanitation Day (WPSD), to be held this Aug. 15, 2014. The goal of this day is to let the world know how much the industry impacts lives around the world. Here’s a little Q&A on the subject.
Q: Why was World Portable Sanitation Day created?
It’s actually part of PSAI’s education initiative. We wanted to spotlight the world’s need for adequate sanitation and how our industry offers a working solution.
Q: How big is the need?
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that 2.6 billion people around the world don’t have access to proper sanitation. That’s about a third of our population. Another 200 million people each year are victims of natural disasters that shut down existing sanitation.
Q: What happens in these situations?
The spread of disease is the biggest threat. Every year, at least 2.2 million people around the world die from the spread of bacteria caused by poor sanitation. This kind of disease kills more children than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles – combined. The goal of WPSD is to get everyone on board with solving the problem.
Q: Is WPSD similar to World Toilet Day?
It’s different in that World Toilet Day focuses on building toilets on sewer systems, similar to the ones we use. But sewer systems are not a practical option in many parts of the world. That’s why portable sanitation is such a good solution.
Q: What are the advantages?
Portable sanitation is an option that can save valuable water. In fact, it’s been estimated to save 125 million gallons of freshwater every day. Portable sanitation is also easier to install and costs less money.
Q: What can companies do at the local level?
We’ve created decals with the WPSD logo that companies can use on their products. The stickers have QR codes that lead to the PSAI website, which has additional information. There’s also a YouTube video that can help. Hopefully, local companies will get creative with these tools and get the word out.
Q: Will you do this again in 2015?
That’s the plan. Right now we have a five-year plan and we’re hoping over that time, WPSD will pick up momentum and start making a difference.
Jake Groen is general manager for PolyJohn Canada and sits on the PSAI board as a Supplies Director. Jake is also part of PSAI’s education initiative.