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U.N. Calls For International Collaboration To Improve Sanitation For Billions

“The U.N. [on Monday] called for collaboration between governments, the private sector and scientists to improve [the] sanitation needs of billions of people around the world and to focus on the issue of open defecation,” Thomson Reuters Foundation reports. “More than 2.5 billion people around the world — more than one-third of the population — still lack access to adequate sanitation such as toilets or latrines, and of those, one billion practice open defecation, which translates to one of every four people in developing countries defecating in the open,” the news service notes (Mis, 9/3). “In a keynote address to the World Water Week plenary session in Stockholm, Deputy-Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said: ‘Dealing effectively with the water and sanitation crisis is fundamental to fighting disease and poverty,'” the U.N. News Centre writes, adding, “He urged the hundreds of delegates gathered for the session entitled ‘Building partnerships for Sanitation and Water for All’ to work towards sustainable solutions and measures among actors, including national governments, local administrations, development partners, international organizations, the private sector, the research and science community and civil society.” The news service notes, “Inadequate water supply and sanitation around the world lead to an economic loss of $260 billion in health costs and diminished work productivity, WHO reported” (9/2).

Eliasson “has urged states to step up their efforts on sanitation, which is the subject of the seventh Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” according to The Guardian, which notes, “Meeting the target would involve reducing the proportion of people without access to sanitation from 51 percent to 25 percent by 2015.” The newspaper adds the WHO “says the objective is off track but, even if it were met, about 1.7 billion people will be without access to sanitation” (Tran, 9/2). In related news, Devex examines efforts to improve sanitation in Zimbabwe, highlighting “the innovative work of Peter Morgan, who back in the 1970s, invented the Blair Ventilated Improved Pit Latrine” and who, on Sept. 5, “will receive the 2013 Stockholm Water Prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden” (Villarino, 9/2). In similar news, Agence France-Presse reports USAID and the Swedish government “announced a $25 million grant program Monday to increase access to clean water for farming,” adding, “The Securing Water for Food program is intended to fund innovators and help their businesses take root in countries where the technology is desperately needed” (9/2).