Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Nearly one billion who defecate outdoors pollute water sources, jeopardise health of millions, contribute to physical and mental impairment of 161 million children yearly. 640 million in India either don't have toilets or refuse to use them, UN report-AP

7/1/15, "One-third of world's people still have no proper toilets," AP

"Toilets are taken for granted in the industrialised West, but still are a luxury for a third of the world's people who have no access to them, according to a report by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

Those who make do without toilets continue to pollute water sources and jeopardise public health and safety for millions worldwide. That contributes to malnutrition and childhood stunting, impairing 161 million children both physically and mentally every year.

"Until everyone has access to adequate sanitation facilities, the quality of water supplies will be undermined and too many people will continue to die from waterborne and water-related diseases," WHO's public health department director, Dr. Maria Neira, said in a statement....

Past efforts to improve water and sanitation have seen some success, with 2.1 billion people gaining access to better sanitation facilities since 1990, according to the report. Yet, another 2.4 billion people have seen no improvement, including 946 million people still relieving themselves outdoors-the vast majority among the rural poor.

India is by far the worst culprit, with more than 640 million people defecating in the open, and not necessarily due to a lack of facilities. Many men who have installed toilets at home still prefer going outdoors as they survey their farmlands or seek a few minutes of quiet.

While successive Indian governments have pledged to install toilets in every home, little has been done to educate people about the dangers of unsanitary practices. Meanwhile, diarrheal diseases kill 700,000 children every year, most of which could have been prevented with better sanitation. India still needs to build some 100 million toilets to provide everyone access, but experts say the country also needs to invest more in campaigns to change behaviors. Instead, the government recently slashed its sanitation budget in half.

India is also a victim of its own population growth, with some 1.26 billion citizens now and counting. That "just wipes out any gains in sanitation, or on any development front," Jacob said....

663 million of the world's poorest - more than the populations of the European Union and Russia combined - have seen no improvement at all. Instead, they are left to scavenge for water around broken pipes and stagnant ponds, may walk miles (kilometers) to the nearest spigot for clean water, or may be financially exploited by "water mafias" charging almost a full day's wages for single cup of water."....


June 16, 2014, "Why do millions of Indians defecate in the open?" BBC

"Apart from poverty and lack of lavatories, one of the reasons often cited to explain open defecation in India is the ingrained cultural norm making the practice socially accepted in some parts of the society.

"Just building toilets is not going to solve the problem, because open defecation is a practice acquired from the time you learn how to walk. When you grow up in an environment where everyone does it, even if later in life you have access to proper sanitation, you will revert back to it," says Sue Coates, chief of Wash (water, sanitation and hygiene) at Unicef.
India will be free of open defecation only when "every Indian household, every village, every part of Indian society will accept the need to use toilets and commit to do so", she says."...


“Building toilets does not mean that people will use them and there seems to be a host of cultural, social, and caste-based reasons for that....

8/4/14, "India’s Toilet Race Failing as Villages Don’t Use Them," Bloomberg,

In at least five of India’s poorest states, the majority of people in households with a government latrine don’t use it....Sunita’s family in the north Indian village of Mukimpur were given their first toilet in February, one of millions being installed by the government to combat disease. She can’t remember the last time anyone used it."...


6/30/15, "Lack of toilets for 2.4 billion people undermining health efforts,", Stephen Feller, Geneva, Switzerland  

"Lack of access to toilets and unsanitary social norms threaten to undermine global efforts to improve drinking water and increase rates of child survival. 

Great strides have been made to increase access to clean drinking water, and the number of children who die from diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and hygiene has been cut in half during the last fifteen years, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF. 

The largest issue at hand, said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF's global water, sanitation and hygiene programs, is sanitation and toilet access. 2.4 billion have no access to toilets, 946 million people defecate in the open, making it difficult to keep water supplies clean. 

"Until everyone has access to adequate sanitation facilities, the quality of water supplies will be undermined and too many people will continue to die from waterborne and water-related diseases," said Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, in a press release

About 2.6 billion have gained access to cleaner drinking water, the two organizations report; 91 percent of the world's population has access to it. Additionally, fewer than 1,000 children die each day of diarrhea caused by water issues, as compared with about 2,000 per day 15 years ago. 

An improved drinking source is one that is protected from contamination and can include water piped into homes, a public tap or standpipe, or some other protected access, as well as sources of water that are specifically not able to be contaminated. 

Wijesekera said the global model on water, however, has not moved fast enough as many of the poorest people who need sanitation services have been left for last. 

A more robust focus and investment will need to be made to improve hygiene and habits, as well as more innovative technologies and approaches to helping poor, often rural, areas get access to clean water, the organizations said."


Image caption: "Although 2.6 billion people have gained access to clean water since 1990 who previously did not have it, hygiene and further sanitation issues threaten the progress that has been made. Photo: africa924/Shutterstock"


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