(The Guardian) Lack of toilets blights the lives of 2.5bn people

UN deputy secretary general says failure to address sanitation and open defecation threatens disaster for third of humanity

By Sam Jones. Originally published in The Guardian.


Toilets: 2.5bn people go without – a 99-second video animation

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 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. Continue reading

(Devex Op-ed) UN Deputy Secretary-General: Sanitation for all- The MDGs and beyond

By the UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. Originally published on Devex

New toilets in Abidjian, Ivory Coast. There is still 2.5 billion people that have no access to a decent toilet or latrine. Photo by: Patricia Esteve / United Nations

New toilets in Abidjian, Ivory Coast. There is still 2.5 billion people that have no access to a decent toilet or latrine. Photo by: Patricia Esteve / United Nations

There has been significant progress over the last twenty years by governments, global citizens and the private sector in tackling the main obstacles to sustainable development: poverty and disease.

The Millennium Development Goals have shown us what can be achieved with successfully applied targeted financial policies and human ingenuity to many entrenched global challenges.

Millions of people have been lifted from extreme poverty and hunger. In the fight against malaria, an estimated 3.3 million deaths were averted between 2000 and 2012. Antiretroviral therapy for HIV-infected people has saved 6.6 million lives since 1995. Maternal mortality has fallen by 45 per cent since 1990. Some 2.3 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources since 1990, collectively helping the world to meet that MDG target in the process.

These are important achievements in their own right which will also inform the priorities to be set for the post-2015 development agenda.

We must also address emerging and worsening challenges. With climate change and rising food needs there are greater demands on energy and water. Not only is there greater water scarcity, but pollution is also increasing.

We cannot afford to delay our response to these looming crises. While billions of people have seen improved sanitation since 1990, the world is still likely to miss the MDG sanitation target by over half a billion people. The time has come for a paradigm shift in the way we manage our water resources. Continue reading