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Greenlandic water and sanitation systems—identifying system constellation and challenges

  • Water, sanitation, pollution and health in the Arctic
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A good water supply and wastewater management is essential for a local sustainable community development. This is emphasized in the new global goals of the UN Sustainable Development, where the sixth objective is to: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” (United Nations 2015). This obviously raises the question of how this can be achieved considering the very different conditions and cultures around the globe. This article presents the Greenlandic context and elucidates the current Greenland water supply system and wastewater management system from a socio-technical approach, focusing on the geographic, climatic and cultural challenges. The article identifies a diverse set of system constellations in different parts of Greenland and concludes with a discussion of health and quality of life implications.

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  1. Data is based on municipal records of households registered for pickup of toilet bags at the individual settlements.

  2. Re the municipalities’ registration of households paying for bag toilets.

  3. A rather well-known film was even produced to support the conclusions from this expedition. It showed a family living in a remote area being visited by a doctor and the son being sent for care to a hospital in the city.


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Correspondence to Kåre Hendriksen.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Hendriksen, K., Hoffmann, B. Greenlandic water and sanitation systems—identifying system constellation and challenges. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 32964–32974 (2018).

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