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Sanitation's silent crisis

Dec 04, 2008

WaterAid’s report titled: Tackling the silent killer - the case for sanitation argues that poor sanitation is a major contributing factor in child mortality and yet remains the most neglected MDG target. The report calls on governments to increase investment and prioritise sanitation with development strategies.

Tackling the silent killer - the case for sanitation

Publisher: WaterAid, July 2008

Despite strong evidence that it is the single most cost-effective health intervention, sanitation remains largely absent in national development plans and donor aid strategies. Low political priority plays into chronic under-investment and weak institutional capacity.

sanitation cover

The sanitation crisis lies at the heart of the failure of the Millennium Development Goals tackling of which would accelerate progress towards the health, education and economic goals to reduce poverty and strengthen existing investments in these other sectors.

Treatment of sanitation-related diseases is a significant drain on scarce financial resources among this section of society. Money spent on medicine and healthcare will be at the expense of food, education and other essentials.

A recent study by WaterAid in Bangladesh has shown that access to sanitation improved the economic status of the poorest households even in a context of broader economic decline.

Inadequate sanitation in schools reduces girls’ attendance and is a significant barrier to the achievement of the MDG target to remove gender disparity in primary education. A failure to address sanitation in schools, including facilities for menstrual hygiene management, widens the gulf between the opportunities afforded to girls and boys through education.

History demonstrates that sanitation is a powerful catalyst for public health improvements and development gains. In Europe and North America, improvements in sanitation enabled unprecedented reductions in child mortality in the twentieth century, a pattern that has been seen more recently across three East Asian developmental states.

Governments must urgently mobilise the necessary effort for ensuring broad participation by a wide range of sector stakeholders in the planning and monitoring of sanitation service delivery at the national and sub-national levels.

Source : WaterAid
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