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‘Taboo’ Surrounding Toilets, Sanitation Hindering Progress Toward Improved Access

“Governments are failing to fund projects to improve access to toilets and other sanitation services in poor countries because the subject remains ‘taboo,’ a director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Monday,” Reuters reports. “About 1.1 billion people across the world still defecate in the open because they have no toilets, according to the United Nations,” Reuters writes. “It’s the last big taboo and as a result more than one million kids die every year. Diarrhea is the second largest cause of death after respiratory infections in young children,” Frank Rijsberman, director of water, sanitation and hygiene at the foundation, said at the Global Water Summit 2012 conference in Rome, the news service notes.

“Rijsberman said global leaders should take opportunities like the U.N. conference for sustainable development in Rio in June to set new sanitation targets,” Reuters writes. “Governments are still far from meeting an internationally agreed Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation — only 63 percent of the world now has improved access to sanitation, well below the target of getting that to 75 percent by 2015,” the news service notes, adding, “By contrast, the world has met the MDG to halve the proportion of people with no safe drinking water well ahead of the 2015 deadline, according to U.N. data released in March” (Hornby, 5/1).