The World Health Organization’s concept of integrated, preventive risk management through water safety plans been adopted in many countries. This approach has contributed to sustained improvements in drinking water safety across the world.
Key components of a water safety plan include system assessment, risk management and monitoring. To assess a water supply system, it is necessary to understand potential health risks associated with human and animal waste and to consider how best to control these risks.
In 2015, the World Health Organization introduced the concept of sanitation safety planning to support the 2006 WHO Guidelines for Safe Use of Wastewater, Excreta and Greywater. Sanitation safety plans require consideration of potential health risks, implementation of improvements and regular monitoring. Sanitation safety plans complement water safety plans and guide the identification of hazards associated with human and animal wastes, the assessment of exposure risks/routes (including drinking water) and a review of controls.
The policy and regulatory framework for control of human and animal waste may not be as clearly defined as the regulation of drinking water. The sanitation safety plan approach fosters intersectoral collaboration acknowledging the role of different groups including municipalities, water utilities, farmers and communities.
In some jurisdictions, including New South Wales, Australia, there are examples of both challenges and successes in the journey to engage all stakeholders to holistically consider sanitation risks in order to improve the safety of drinking water and the protection of public health.