Friday, November 20, 2015

It's a shitty life for most Africans

A majority, 70%, of people in sub-Saharan Africa still don’t have access to toilets, African governments fail to prioritise sanitation, causing their citizens to defecate in the open or use a bucket or rudimentary pit latrine which leaks its contents, meaning people have no way to prevent faeces from contaminating their environment. In Tanzania, for instance, the current sanitation investment is less than 0.1% of the GDP!

This is a one-way street to illness – one gram of faeces carries up to 1 million bacteria and 10 million viruses. This means that the cost of hospital beds held by people suffering from preventable illnesses is also holding back a country’s workforce and its economic development. The annual global economic losses due to sanitation deficiencies are estimated to be $260 billion.

Nigeria for example is a middle-income economy, but has lagged in financing its sanitation infrastructure. One way to change this would be to mobilise domestic resources, including through taxes and tariffs, and effectively targeting those who most need the facilities.

Instead, the number of Nigerian households with access to sanitation has actually slipped by 9% since 1990 and some 71% of Nigeria’s people do not have access to basic and safe toilets. This takes a heavy toll: an estimated 11 children in every 1,000 die of diarrhoea-related illnesses each year, and 58 out of 100,000 births result in the mother dying of sepsis.

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