Over a billion people worldwide practice open defecation: UN

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Members of the UNMISS Japanese contingent are building latrines for the displaced people inside UNMISS compound. UN Photo/x [575503]

More than one billion people worldwide are forced to relieve themselves using rivers, fields and other open places because of the lack of latrines or toilets, according to the UN.

The practice is associated with the spread of diseases like diarrhoea, for entire communities and it increases the risk of sexual violence and harassment for women and girls.

Led by the UN Deputy Secretary-General, the new UN campaign will run to the end of 2015.

Jan Eliasson told reporters in New York on Wednesday that it was time to break the silence regarding this often taboo and unpopular topic.

"It's about a situation that exists now shocking in its scale and consequences and affecting the lives of people every day. It keeps women under the threat of harassment, violence and rape. It forces girls to abandon education at puberty. It contributes to a cost of 260 billion dollars a year through death, ill health and loss of productivity."  (27″)

Two and a half billion people across the globe lack access to basic sanitation.

The campaign to end open defecation aims to not only spur conversation about the problem, but also to increase political will for greater action on the issue.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration:  1’24″


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