Via The Guardian: Lack of toilets blights the lives of 2.5bn people, UN chief warns.
The world’s lack of progress in building toilets and ending open defecation is having a “staggering” effect on the health, safety, education, prosperity and dignity of 2.5 billion people, the UN deputy secretary general, Jan Eliasson, has warned.
Speaking as the UN prepares to debate a new set of development goals – and in the aftermath of the rape and murder of two Indian girls who were attacked as they ventured into a field to relieve themselves – Eliasson said the failure to address the issue of sanitation would prove disastrous for a third of humanity.
“Sanitation is cross-cutting: if you make progress on sanitation, then you dramatically improve the achievement of at least four other goals,” he told the Guardian.
“One of the main reasons for child mortality is diarrhoea and dysentery because of bad water and a lack of sanitation. You get a much better way of working with maternal health issues: I can’t tell you how many women are dying in childbirth because of a lack of clean water. You’ll affect education, because people can’t go to school when they have these huge problems, and you will have productive people who can go to work.”
Eliasson said building toilets for women was fundamental to gender equality, education – and safety. “In Africa, in particular, there is an unfortunate situation where girls don’t have toilets in their schools,” he said.
“It’s very easy to arrange them for the boys, but girls require more privacy. And then you get into the area that we saw in that horrible example in India, when the girls went out at night and were raped and killed. This is done in innumerable cases: men preying on young girls who are going out like that.”