Wednesday, 21 April 2010

India has more Cell Phones than Toilets

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Far more people in India have access to a cell phone than to a toilet and improved sanitation, according to UN experts who published a 9-point prescription for achieving the world's Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation by 2015 on April 14.

They also urge the world community to set a new target beyond the MDG (which calls for a 50 percent improvement in access to adequate sanitation by 2015) to the achievement of 100 percent coverage by 2025.

Recent UN research in India, the world's second most populous country, shows roughly 366 million people (31 percent of the population) had access to improved sanitation in 2008. Other data, meanwhile, shows 545 million cell phones are now connected to service in India's emerging economy. The number of cell phones per 100 people has exploded from 0.35 in year 2000-01 to about 45 today.

Worldwide some 1.1 billion people defecate in the open. And data show progress in creating access to toilets and sanitation lags far behind world MDG targets, even as mobile phone connections continue to a predicted 1 billion in India by 2015. Says Zafar Adeel, Director of United Nations University's Canada-based think-tank for water, the Institute for Water, Environment and Health: "It is a tragic irony to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet."

The new UNU report cites a rough cost of $300 to build a toilet, including labour, materials and advice. Worldwide, an estimated $358 billion is needed between now and 2015 to reach the MDG for sanitation -- some of this funding is already mobilized at national and international levels.

[Ref: ScienceDaily]


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