The one message that came across at the just concluded general assembly of the World Toilet Association (WTA) was that conventional flush toilets are not only environment unfriendly but are also a serious public health hazard.

And while the United Nations estimates that 2.6 billion people are living without proper sanitation and without access to potable water, those using flush toilets are converting precious water into dangerous effluents.

Sanitation experts who gathered in the Korean capital for the assembly, that concluded on Sunday, called for a major paradigm shift and even a ‘back to nature' approach to the disposal of human waste.

"We are on the wrong track," said Hubert J. Gijzen, a biotechnologist representing UNESCO's Indonesian office. Newer ways, all agreed, were needed to be developed to dispose human excreta. If flush toilets have to be used they must be redesigned to reduce water consumption, or else use recycled water.

‘'The current conventional sanitation systems will not be able to achieve the (United Nations') Millennium Development Goal,'' said lawmaker James D. Mamit from Malaysia, who is environment advisor to its state of Sarawak.


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