General News Sat, 22 Mar 2008

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Six in 10 Africans are without access to proper toilet facilities

Accra, March 22, GNA - Sixty-two percent of Africans do not have access to an improved sanitation facility such as a proper toilet facility that separated human waste from human contact. "If current trends continue, there will still be 2.4 billion people without basic sanitation in 2015, and the children among them will continue to pay the price in lost lives, missed schooling, disease, malnutrition and poverty".

A statement jointly issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nation's (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation said in Accra on Saturday. The data was contained in a preliminary report issued to mark the World Water Day 2008, celebrated on the theme: "Sanitation Matters," It said although WHO and UNICEF estimate that 1.2 billion people worldwide gained access to improved sanitation between 1990 and 2004, an estimated 2.6 billion people - including 980 million children - had no toilets at home.

The statement reminded the public on the need for hand washing with soap to prevent the transfer of bacteria and its related diseases such as diarrhoea, which was the second biggest killer of children in developing countries.

According to Ms. Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director, the absence of adequate sanitation had serious impacts on health and social development, especially for children, adding, "Investments in improving sanitation will accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and save lives."

She stated that safety issues were particularly important for women and children, who otherwise risk sexual harassment and assault when defecating at night and in secluded areas.

The International Year of Sanitation 2008 aims to raise the profile of sanitation issues on the international agenda and to accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing by half the proportion of people living without access to improved sanitation by 2015.

Within the United Nations system, the focal point for the International Year of Sanitation is the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in collaboration with the UN-Water Task Force on Sanitation.

Source: GNA

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