Nonfiction in response to Clean Water and Sanitation
By Amrita Bhasin
CC Image Courtesy of EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
Two years ago, I took a trip to India to visit my relatives. Driving past the slums of India, I was surprised to see television antennas sticking out of the tops of makeshift houses.
In fact, the World Bank reports that “the poorest households are more likely to have access to mobile phones than to toilets or clean water.” It is a worrying contradiction of today.
Yet, according to the United Nations, 4500 children die daily from diseases like diarrhea that stem from a lack of sanitation, and “for children under five, water- and sanitation-related diseases are one of the leading causes of death.” According to the Global Citizen, “2.5 billion people–over one third of the world's population–lack access to sanitation facilities.”
In some parts of the world, there is a taboo against sanitation and using a toilet. This is a problem, in part, that stems from lack of education.
It is easy for other, more developed countries to brush off the obligation to provide aid in faraway parts of the world. However, many don’t realize that something that seems so simple to us can be costly for a country like India. The United Nations reports that “every US $1 spent on sanitation brings a $5.50 return by keeping people healthy and productive.” This is because “inadequate sanitation causes India considerable economic losses, equivalent to 6.4 per cent of India’s” or $53.8 billion, as reported by the World Bank.
Rural communities are disproportionally hurt by an absence of clean water and sanitation. There is so much lost productivity as a result and too many children denied an education.
One of the first steps to combatting this problem is to erase the stigma surrounding sanitation. Furthermore, more people can be educated about the dangers and health risks involving inadequate sanitation. Perhaps then, it is possible to have more toilets than cell phones in the world.