March 24, 2013
Fewer People Have Toilets Than Cellphones, According To The UN
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
More people worldwide own a cellphone than have access to toilets or latrines, United Nations (UN) Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson revealed as part of what the global governing body has deemed “a call for urgent action to end the crisis of 2.5 billion people without basic sanitation.”According to statistics released by the UN on Thursday, six billion of the world´s seven billion people have mobile phones, but only 4.5 billion can get to clean restroom facilities when they need them. The remaining 2.5 billion, most of whom live in rural areas, do not have proper sanitation.
Furthermore, Mashable´s Zoe Fox reports more than one billion people are forced to defecate out in the open. That practice is prevalent in countries with the highest rate of fatalities amongst children under the age of five, as well as elevated malnutrition and poverty rates and other significant health issues, Fox added.
“While that might seem like an apples to oranges comparison, the contrast is interesting and somewhat alarming,” explained Gizmodo´s Leslie Horn, adding “in Indonesia, for example, it's pretty normal to see someone in a metal roofed shack without a bathroom checking Facebook on a phone. And though many countries' governments aren't responding to basic needs in terms of infrastructure, tech companies will damn well get phones in people's hands.”
“I am calling on all actors — government, civil society, business and international organizations — to commit to measurable action and to mobilize the resources to rapidly increase access to basic sanitation,” Eliasson said, calling for efforts to end the practice of open defecation by the year 2025 and improved management of human excrement and waste water. “Let´s face it — this is a problem that people do not like to talk about. But it goes to the heart of ensuring good health, a clean environment and fundamental human dignity for billions of people.”
The UN Deputy Secretary-General told Steve Robson of the Daily Mail 22 countries currently account for more than four-fifths of all open defecation worldwide. A UN official said those countries were Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Niger, Sudan and South Sudan.
Furthermore, Robson reported India alone accounted for 60 percent of the number of people engaged in the practice. India is home to nearly 900 million cellphones, but over 600 million do not have access to proper sanitation, the Daily Mail reporter noted. The news isn´t all bad, however. The UN also pointed out, since 1990, 1.8 billion people have gained access to better sanitation as part of the agency´s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) anti-poverty initiative.