According to the Joint Monitoring Programme of WHO and Unicef, 71 per cent of Pakistan’s rural population does not have the facilities of improved sanitation, and 40 per cent of the rural population resort to open defecation.
Similar figures for Sindh are high, due to abject poverty in Sindh and, inability of the Sindh government to provide sanitation facilities due to political insensitivities and imbalanced priorities.
Sanitation, like education and health, is an essential force in the fight against poverty. Experience shows that investments in basic sanitation can help lift people out of poverty, disease and premature death. Meeting the need of the poor women, men, and children for a private, clean toilet in Sindh, something taken for granted in Sindh government today, is both possible and imperative.
Sanitation is vital for human health and hygiene. A WWF report says “20 to 40 per cent of the hospital beds in Pakistan are occupied by patients suffering from water-related diseases, such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery and hepatitis, which are responsible for one third of all deaths.” These diseases would not be there if people had proper sanitation facilities.
Link between sanitation to health is not just theoretical. A recent citywide sanitation drive in Salvador, Brazil resulted in a 43 per cent fall in the prevalence of diarrhoea in the poorest areas of the city.
Sanitation generates economic benefits. A donor agency report shows that improved sanitation in developing countries yields about $9 worth of benefits for every $1 spent. Estimates from the WHO suggest that the time saved by people using a toilet close to home alone would have an annual economic value in excess of $114 billion.
In Malaysia, 98 per cent of the rural population has access to sanitation. This nearly universal sanitation access has resulted in a dramatic fall in incidence of cholera, dysentery, and typhoid. Thailand has currently 95 per cent sanitation coverage. In Bangladesh, the government planned 100 per cent sanitation coverage for 2010, but due to flooding and other problems, achieved 94 per cent coverage. Rwanda, a sub-Saharan African country, targets 100 per cent sanitation coverage by 2012. Angola, Botswana and South Africa intend to meet Millennium Development Goal target for sanitation in 2015.
India has sanitation coverage of 68 per cent and plans to ensure 100 per cent coverage by 2022. India has a comprehensive programme called ‘Total Sanitation Campaign’ (TSC), which ensures sanitation facilities in rural areas with the broader goal to eradicate the practice of open defecation. To add support to the TSC, in October 2003, the Government of India initiated an incentive scheme named the ‘Nirmal Gram Puraskar’ (NGP). NGP is given to those ‘open defecation free’ Nirmal Gram Panchayats, blocks, and districts which have become fully sanitised. Read More