UN: Make sanitation for all a global development priorityListen /
Over 2.5 billion people lack the benefits of adequate sanitation, with devastating consequences, in particular for the well-being, health, education and empowerment of women and girls worldwide, according to the United Nations.
Furthermore, over 800,000 children under five die each year from diarrhea and countless others fall seriously ill often with long term health and developmental consequences as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene.
On the occasion of the first United Nations World Toilet day being observed today, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says it was regrettable that the world remains a long way from achieving the MDG target of reducing by half the proportion of people lacking adequate sanitation.
He says sanitation must be placed at the heart of the post 2015 development framework, adding that solutions need not be expensive or technology driven.
A report published by the UN-hosted Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, says one in three women worldwide risk shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet.
Dr Christopher Williams is the Executive Director of the council.
"What is world toilet day about, basically it's a call to action on sanitation and hygiene, to focus our attention on the importance of its links to health, education, basic access to human rights, as well as a focus on attendance to school and education. In particular, we've decided this year to focus on the issue of women and in particular to zero in on the aspect of menstrual hygiene management which sounds like an obscure topic but you can imagine the number of women that do not have basic safety and security for six to eight days in a month is astounding and impact of this on women on the number of days of school missed, we estimate that roughly 28 per cent of school attendance is reduced because of inadequate menstrual hygiene management facilities as well as disposal."
He says an environment that lacks sanitation and clean water is an environment where achieving other development goals is an impossible dream.
Patrick Maigua United Nations Radio, Geneva.