Why Aren’t We Doing It?

The world’s population is said to be about 6.5 billion. Of these a new report says, 2.5 billion lack access to what is called improved sanitation. The word improved denoting no real bathroom facilities, but something however primitive . Of these 2.5 billion, 1.2 billion have no access to any kind of bathrooms and are forced to “defecate without sanitary facilities.” It is not a subject one likes to talk about, and rather unsavory to imagine what the implications of “without sanitary facilities” actually refers to. But two consequences are certain, one is the health threat to the communities involved and the second is how that leads to a contaminated environment that researchers directly link to diarrhea, one of the biggest killer of children under five.
The report released by UNICEF (UN Children’s Fund) and WHO (World Health Organization) does cite progress. The percentage of the total population who are forced to practice what is called open defecation has gone down, from 24% of the total to 18%. As expected the problem is worse in rural areas. But contrary to expectations the continent that is worst hit is not Africa, but Asia. Seventy percent of the people living with broken down or nonexistent sewage system are in Asia, and 22% in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Margaret Chan. WHO’s General Director, says, “We have today a full menu of low-cost technical options for the provision of sanitation in most settings. More and more governments are determined to improve health by bringing water and sanitation to their poorest populations. If we want to break the stranglehold of poverty, and reap the benefits for health, we must address water and sanitation.”
So the question arises, why then aren’t we doing it? Surely basic sanitation qualifies as a human right.