Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Fast growing Asia is slow on buying toilets

Despite the explosive growth of Asian economies, one important part of development is lacking for many. The lack of a toilet for a majority of homes in Asia could slow the ease of poverty in the region.

Without a clean toilet, people are exposed to all kinds of health risks. Diseases caused poor sanitation will prevent people from earning income and can spread across neighborhoods quickly..

From this AFP article that we found at the Mail and Guardian, we learn more on why social advocates are concerned about sanitation in Asia.

"The lack of good toilets as well as sanitation is still a problem in Asia," said Babar Kibir of Bangladesh-based Brac, one of the world's biggest non-government organisations.

Sanitation has an "immense effect" on poverty reduction, Kibir said.

"It has linkages with poverty, child mortality, combating disease and environmental sustainability," the director of Brac's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme, or Wash, told Agence France-Presse.

People living in poor sanitary conditions are vulnerable to illness which often prevents them from finding regular employment, Kibir said, adding that much of the meagre income they earn would be spent on medical treatment.

Diarrhoea, malnutrition, arrested physical growth, loss of eyesight, typhoid, dysentery and hepatitis are diseases commonly associated with poor sanitation.

"Poor people, particularly women and children, can enjoy protection from diseases, malnutrition and death by using safe water and sanitation facilities including improved hygiene practices," said Kibir.

In Bangladesh, one of Asia's poorest countries, Brac's Wash programme provides micro-loans to the poor to build toilet facilities, charging only a minimum service charge. Grants are given only to the very poor.

But the programme goes beyond just providing latrines -- it comes as an entire package, which includes designing and building eco-friendly toilets and raising awareness in the community about the need for good sanitation.

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