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What is Sanitation and Its Effects

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What is Sanitation and Its Effects essay


Sanitation is crucial for the life and development of children. At this time, 2.4 billion people around the world do not use correct sanitation facilities. 946 million people go outside their own houses for sanitation, known as open defecation. Since actions have been placed to improve sanitation, progress has been made in few parts of the world. However, millions of children in poor and undeveloped areas have been forgotten, left behind.

What is sanitation?

Sanitation can be understood as interventions that reduce human exposure to diseases by providing a clean environment in which to live. It is acts and work to build and form a hygienic environment for one’s body. It includes everything you do in your bathroom: shower, brush your teeth, go to the toilets, wash your hands…

Ending open defecation

Open defecation is when people go out in fields, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using a bathroom. It is incredibly dangerous, as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhea, worm infestation and under nutrition.

Currently, 1 in 7 people, or 946 million people, practice open defecation. Of those who do, 9 out of 10 live in rural areas. Globally, India has the largest number of people still defecating in the open: more than 564 million.

Diseases led by poor or lack of sanitation

Cholera, typhoid, infectious hepatitis, polio, cryptosporidiosis, and ascariasis. Undernutrition, pneumonia, worm infestations, are also associated with unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene resulting in reduced physical growth, weakened physical fitness and impaired cognitive function, particularly for children under the age of five.

This is why we wash hands and have toilets, to prevent those diseases and viruses to reach our body. Now, imagine what happens, in poor countries where 95% of the population use open defecation and have no sanitation, where they wash themselves with dirty and contaminated water.

These are the words of Dr Annette Pruss-Ustun, Scientist, Public Health and the Environment Department, World Health Organization:

“About one quarter of global disease is caused by environmental factors that we could in fact change. The environment influences our health through the air we breathe, the water we drink, radiation and noise, the work environment, the built environment, and also the climate and ecosystem – a large wide variety of influences”.


In many cultures, women cannot defecate at day-time

Key sanitation facts:

1 in 3 people don’t use improved sanitation.

1 in 7 people practice open defecation.

Since 1990, 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation.

5 countries, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Pakistan, account for 75% of open defecation.

We must double our current efforts in order to end open defecation by 2030.

The world houses 7billion people, 2.5 billion people do not have proper sanitation

In many countries, 95% practices open defecation.

¼ people in the least developed countries practices open defecation.

Ending open defecation will lead to a 35 % reduction in over 3/4 of a million deaths of children under 5 each year.

Having to go outside the safety of their homes in order to relieve themselves makes women and girls vulnerable to violence.

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