UN organizations launch campaigns for more toilets

16:19, March 22, 2010      

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To mark UN World Water Day on Monday, campaigners around the world will form huge symbolic toilet queues to urge governments everywhere to tackle the national and global sanitation crises that claim the lives of 4000 children every day, according to news reaching here from the UN organizations in Geneva.

“ The queue will see tens of thousands of people in 70 countries – from America to Zimbabwe – stand in line for the toilet to draw attention to the sanitation crises, which holds back the quality of life for 4 out of every ten humans,” said Jan Lane, Executive Director of the UN Water and Sanitation Cooperation Council, one of the organizers of the global campaign.

“Lack of proper sanitation can also adversely affect education and maternal and child health, economic growth and environmental protection, it kills more children than malaria, HIV&AIDS and TB combined,” Mr.Lane further commented.

The global queue is organized by End Water Poverty, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, and Freshwater Action Network, three leading advocates for improved sanitation, hygiene and drinking water.
Campaigners worldwide will also be calling on ministers to take action at the first-ever High Level Meeting on Water and Sanitation taking place in Washington, D.C., on April 23.

According to the latest data from United Nations Children’s Fund, 4,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and dysentery.

The UN estimates that half of girls who stop attending primary school in Africa do so because of the lack of safe and private toilets.
It is estimated that investing in sanitation is very rewarding, one dollar invested in safe sanitation generates 9 dollars in economic returns.
The campaigners express concerns that at current rates of progress, the world will miss the Millennium Development Goals sanitation target of halving the number of 2.6 billion people who lack of proper sanitation equipment by 2015.

Statistics show that some 1.1 billion people still defecate in the open. Eleven countries, (India, Indonesia, China, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Sudan, Nepal, Brazil, Niger and Bangladesh) are home to 81 per cent of them.

Open defecation is largely a rural phenomenon, most widely practiced in Southern Asian and Sub-Saharan Africa. Even in these two regions, declines in open defecation have been recorded, with a fall from 66 per cent of the population in 1990 to 44 per cent in 2008 in Southern Asia, and a corresponding decline in Sub-Saharan Africa from 36 per cent to27 per cent, according to the World Health Organization data.

Sub-Saharan Africa and the Oceania are the areas that are lagging behind. Just 60 per cent of the population in Sub-Saharan African and 50 per cent of the population in Oceania use improved sources of drinking-water.
The data from the WHO shows that great progress has been made in China and India.

In China, 89 per cent of the population of 1.3 billion has access to drinking-water from improved sources, up from 67 per cent in 1990. In India, 88 per cent of the population of 1.2 billion has access, as compared to 72 per cent in 1990.

By Xuefei Chen, People’s Daily Online reporter in Stockholm, xuefeic@yahoo.com
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