World Plumbing Day is an international event, initiated by the World Plumbing Council (WPC), held annually on March 11. It recognises the important role plumbing plays in sanitation, health and hygiene.
Statistics show globally more people have a mobile phone than a toilet, one in three individuals lack access to improved sanitation and one billion still practice open defecation and only 64% of the world's population has access to improved sanitation. However, before attempting to make the difference locally it is important to highlight the statistics in South Africa.
Water and Sanitation situation in South Africa
According to statistics South Africa households with access to piped water is 89.9%, and access improved sanitation is 77.9%. Currently 94.8% of South Africans have access to clean and safe drinking water. Approximately 1,4 million formal households require sanitation services and about 500 000 informal households are making use of interim services.
Bearing these statistics in mind, IOPSA and World plumbing day is dedicated to promoting the benefits of safe plumbing and create awareness about the importance of proper sanitation, health and hygiene. It provides individuals with the opportunity to get involved with relieving the crisis and make a difference.
Consequences of improper water and sanitation
With the statistics revealing the reality of the crisis, let’s emphasize the consequences, if you as the consumer does not get involved to make the difference. Due to the lack of sanitation and access in the country's rural communities the threat of water borne disease is steadily increasing. Getaway and tourist destinations such as the Vaal River are becoming increasingly contaminated with fecal material due to the lack of sanitation supplies. This results in less tourists visiting certain destinations. Wildlife is being affected from the raw sewage run off.
Role of plumbers
Plumbers are contributing their part to protect the environment by providing safe fresh water and sanitation through proper management, care, reuse and conservation of natural resources. The plumbing industry recognizes the questionable balance mankind must maintain to guarantee its very existence and embraces efforts to ensure we are preserving every drop possible.
Your role to play
The way you can make a difference is by getting involved with non-profit organisations such as UNICEF who sponsor a wide range of activities and work with many partners, including families, communities, and governments. Also, get involved with local schools by volunteering to give talks and educate pupils about the importance of washing hands and using proper clean water.
IOPSA 2015 Strategy
In 2015, the Institute of Plumbers South Africa (IOPSA) have advised a five year strategy to South African plumbing in support of World Plumbing Day in which they will use the day to create awareness for sanitation, health and hygiene. The strategy plans to create awareness of the rise of not embracing change. This refers to how south Africans use and maintain their water and waste.
Contributed by Gary Macnamara, Executive Director of IOPSA
Subedited by Melissa Brown