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There is an inextricable link between wastewater, health, and sustainable sanitation. Wastewater management is still a challenge in many parts of the world, due to the lack of infrastructures, financing to fund new plants or upgrade the existing ones, and lack of technical and institutional capacity. On a global level, it is estimated that 2.5 billion people still do not have access to improved sanitation facilities and nearly 1 billion still practice open defecation (2017).

These trends have severe repercussions on the environment, where large quantities of pollutants enter our waterways, and on human health too including outbreaks of water-borne diseases affecting especially the vulnerable groups and poor communities. It is estimated that almost 60% of diarrheal diseases is due to a lack of access to clean water and sanitation (2016).

Heavy metals, chemicals, and the appliance of faecal sludge as fertilizers pose risks associated with wastewater, and its reuse. Poor access to WASH has also proven to be devastating for communities, especially youth and pregnant women. The exposure to untreated wastewater and the lack of access to sanitation is indeed a public health issue, and an important challenge that must be tackled on the technical and policy level, and that requires appropriate research, investments, and capacity-building. Awareness-raising and education are also key to empower vulnerable groups and overcome the resistance of communities to safely reuse wastewater. Further, access to safe sanitation can significantly contribute to reducing health-related risks and brings multiple social and economic benefits.

This webinar will discuss tools and approaches to sustainable sanitation and the health-related aspect of wastewater management. The speakers will provide their expertise and examples on these topics.

Join the webinar on Thursday, 25 July 2019, from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm, Nairobi time (EAT).

Please register using this link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6432685481546434827

The webinar is organized by Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), a member of the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I). The GW2I is a multi-stakeholder platform that brings together UN agencies, international organizations, governments, scientists, the private sector and non-profit organizations with the goal of information-sharing and cooperation for an effective and comprehensive response to the challenges posed by wastewater management.

The Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I) is hosted by the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA) of UN Environment, an intergovernmental cooperation mechanism that aims to prevent the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities. Initially established to address nine source categories of marine pollution (sewage, persistent organic pollutants, radioactive substances, heavy metals, oils, nutrients, sediment mobilization, litter and physical alteration and destruction of habitat), the Programme has, since 2012, focused on marine litter, nutrient pollution, and wastewater. Together with its partners and through the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW²I), the GPA seeks to enhance the understanding of wastewater as a resource. It works on various issues related to sustainable wastewater management including policy guidelines, technology, knowledge generation, capacity building, and awareness-raising that contribute to the implementation of the sustainable development goal 6, target 6.3.1, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater discharged in our water bodies.

Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) is a non-profit organization and network dedicated to gender equality and a healthy planet for all. The network consists of over 150 women’s and civil society organizations implementing projects in 50 countries. WECF works for a sustainable future and holistic solutions in the field of gender equality, women’s human rights in interconnection with climate justice, sustainable energy and chemicals, less toxic waste, safe water and sanitation for all. 

Mihaela Vasilescu – Associate Professor, Faculty of Ecology and Environmental Protection, Ecological University of Bucharest

Mihaela Vasilescu is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Ecology and Environmental Protection, Ecological University of Bucharest, Romania. She is also the Coordinator of the Master Programme “Environmental Impact Assessment.” Previously, she worked as a Senior Scientist Chemist and Head of the National Reference Laboratory for the Surveillance of Water Quality at the National Institute of Public Health of Romania. She is an experienced trainer in national and international projects, a team leader, and has published numerous articles and books. She holds a Ph.D. in Medicine.

Bistra Mihaylova – Project Manager, Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF)  

Bistra Mihaylova is a Project Manager at Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), where she has been supervising the portfolio on water and sanitation, chemicals, health, and gender since 2005. Bistra has long-lasting experience in implementing environmental projects in the countries of the Balkan, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia regions. The projects she managed have largely improved the condition of local communities about water and sanitation and serve as a model for replication on both regional and national levels. Bistra has experience in the construction of urine-diverting toilets (Ecosan), greywater filters, and constructed wetlands, and has also worked with UN Women on gender and climate change-related issues. She has degrees from the Sofia University in Bulgaria, and Technical University Munich in Germany.

Kate Medlicott – Technical Officer, World Health Organization (WHO)

Kate Medlicott is the Sanitation and Wastewater Team leader within the Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Health (WASH) team at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  Within this role, Kate is responsible for three WHO guidelines (sanitation and health, safe use of wastewater, and recreational water quality) and global monitoring of wastewater under the sustainable development goals on (SDG 6.3.1) as well as cross-sectoral collaborations where sanitation is a critical component of disease control (including WASH and neglected tropical diseases and environmental aspects of AMR). Kate’s publications relate mostly to the effectiveness of sanitation interventions and wastewater treatment and safe use. Kate’s studies are in the field of environmental engineering, and before joining WHO HQ, she worked mostly in developing countries on WASH programmes.

Bharti Kannan – Founder, Boondh

Bharti Kannan is the Founder of Boondh, a social enterprise that works on menstrual literacy, policy, advocacy, activism, and Sustainable Products. She is an engineer and a student of social science passionate about working on public health and gender. Bharti is based in Bengaluru, India and is responsible for programs, product and content development, finance and overall operations at Boondh.

The webinar will be moderated by Birguy Lamizana, Programme Management Officer, UN Environment and Riccardo Zennaro, Associate Programme Officer, UN Environment.

Birguy Lamizana has more than 20 years of working experience in the field of ecosystems and water management, environmental impacts assessments, community involvement, and capacity building related to integrated water resources management. Before joining UNOPS in 2009, and UN Environment in 2012, Birguy served as Coordinator of the IUCN West Africa Regional Wetlands and Water Resources Programme. She was also the Regional Coordinator for the Global Water Partnership (GWP), and Technical Advisor for the Water Partnership Programme Trust Fund of the African Development Bank (AfDB). Birguy is currently Programme Management Officer in charge of wastewater management at UN Environment.

Riccardo Zennaro is an Associate Programme Officer for wastewater management at UN Environment in Nairobi, Kenya. Passionate about water and sanitation, he has previously worked with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna and Belgrade on environmental co-operation, water management, and environmental governance. He has also worked with the European Commission in Brussels on energy and water, with UN Environment on freshwater, and with an Italian NGO on water supply and food security in Tanzania. Riccardo has a Master’s degree in Environmental Technology and International Affairs from the Vienna University of Technology and Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Austria.