The bogroll of dishonour: A third of the world has inadequate toilets
More than a third of the worldâ€™s population lacks access to adequate sanitation, according to a survey by the British charity WaterAid. In a report marking World Toilet Day on November 19, the organisation has compiled an international “bogroll of dishonour”, designed to shame countries into improving facilities.
Among those listed as having more than 10million people deprived of the use of hygienic lavatories are such unexpected entrants as Romania (a candidate for European Union entry in 2007), Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt and Morocco.
The subject may raise an embarrassed smile or a scatological snigger, but about two million people a year—mainly children—die from diarrhoea, chiefly as a consequence of poor sanitation. WaterAid says the Greater London Authority refused to let it place a lavatory for publicity purposes in Parliament Square, with “RIP” written on a raised seat, because it constituted “inappropriate activity”.
“Putting money into new schools and hospitals provides something you can then show off,” explained Paul Hetherington of WaterAid. “There needs to be a realisation in developing countries that sanitation should be given priority in the way that the Victorians dealt with the problem in 19th-century Britain.”
Overall, 2,6billion people—about 40% of the worldâ€™s population—are without hygienic toilets.
In terms of absolute numbers, the situation is marginally worse in India—772million people are forced to squat in fields and on roadsides—than in China, where the figure is estimated at 736million. Ethiopia has the lowest proportion of provision: just 6% of the population is thought to have the use of a lavatory. Eight of the 10 worst nations for per capita provision are in Africa, two—Afghanistan and Cambodia, both recovering from conflicts—are in Asia.
The traditional long drop, where a seat is placed over a deep hole or gully, is counted in the survey as an adequate facility.
Aid agencies working in the provision of water and sanitation have suffered a 14% cut in funding globally since 1999, according to Water-Aid. “Lack of adequate sanitation is not just a problem of convenience,” the organisation says, “it is also a major health hazard.
“Urban population growth rates in the developing world are vastly outstripping increased sanitation provision. Urban sanitation may start deteriorating as slum growth continues apace—a problem that is already of major concern in southern Asia and steadily increasing in Africa.”
It adds: “Aid donors do not prioritise sanitation for spending in todayâ€™s developing countries, despite sanitation having played a major role in reducing mortality in their own countries.”
World Toilet Day was launched by lavatory makers about a decade ago, but now focuses increasingly on the developing world. The World Toilet Organisation held its annual conference in Belfast this year.—Â