UN deputy chief stresses importance addressing issue of sanitation

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Jan Eliasson

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on Monday stressed the importance of addressing the issue of sanitation and open defecation.

Mr. Eliasson spoke in Stockholm, Sweden where hundreds of delegates from around the world have gathered for World Water Week.

Delivering a keynote address under the theme "Building Partnerships for Sanitation and Water for All" he noted last year's announcement that the world had reached the target for access to improved sources of water.

However, he added a lack of sanitation affects the quality of water in poor countries.

Mr. Eliasson said more than 2.5 billion people around the world don't have adequate sanitation and of these one billion practice open defecation.

"Ending the practice could, for instance, lead to a 36 per cent reduction in diarrhoea. It would also enhance the personal safety of women and girls. Reports from several countries show that many rape cases occur when women have to venture out from their homes to isolated places for their basic needs. We must continue to break taboos. As was the case for the word 'toilets' a few years ago, it is time to incorporate 'open defecation' in the diplomatic discourse today." (33")

World Water week is being observed in Stockholm from 1 to 6 September.

Hundreds of representatives of governments, business, academia and civil society organizations are holding workshops, seminars and other events on water and sanitation for all.

Derrick Mbatha, United Nations.

Duration: 1'45"

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