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Ben Fawcett

IWC and independent lecturer

THE IMPORTANCE OF SANITATION: WHAT MUST WE DO?

This presentation will remind the audience of the wide range of appalling health and social impacts on those living with inadequate sanitation: morbidity and mortality amongst hundreds of millions of children due to diarrhoea; transmissible blindness caused by trachoma; widespread debilitation resulting from bilharzia; asthma, malnutrition and stunted development caused by roundworms; 200 million Indian women having to wait until nightfall to relieve themselves; girls withdrawn from education because their school has inadequate toilets; girls and women with no private facilities for managing menstrual hygiene; and millions of outcast people obliged to handle others excreta.

The result is death, debilitation and indignity. As a conclusion, four important points will be emphasised, in the struggle for improved sanitation: - we, working in the sector, need to emphasise excreta-related much more than water-related disease. Excreta contaminate water, food, people’s fingers and the human environment. Domestic water is only one such route of disease. We need to convincingly demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of improved sanitation to politicians, both in the developing world and amongst donors, in order to persuade them to support local campaigns. We need to emphasise work in poor urban areas. We must find high-profile champions of sanitation.

 

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