Access to safe sanitation is the need of the hour to reduce the global fatality graph surging because of the lack of proper sanitation facilities.
Unsafe and unhygienic sanitation is one of the world's largest health and environmental problems, particularly for society's weaker and underprivileged sections. It is the root cause for 775,000 deaths each year because of a lack of proper sanitation and hygiene-related facilities. Therefore, access to safe sanitation is the need of the hour to reduce the global fatality graph surging because of the lack of proper sanitation facilities.
However, before moving ahead, let's understand some basics. The actual meaning of a safe and improved sanitation facility is hygienically separating human excreta from human contact. This includes flush/pour flush (to piped sewer system, septic tank, pit latrine), ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine, pit latrine with slab and composting toilet. These facilities work properly only when constructed appropriately and maintained timely.
According to a leading medical journal Lancet, poor sanitation is a leading risk factor for infectious diseases, such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. It also aggravates malnutrition, and in particular, childhood stunting. In many countries, people use open defecation areas such as fields, forests, bushes, open bodies of water like beaches or dispose of with solid waste due to the unavailability of proper sanitation infrastructure at home and other public places. According to a report, 6 per cent of the world's population was practicing open defecation, mainly in the rural areas in 2020.
As per a survey, the open defecation problem in rural areas is much higher than in urban areas and this share can range from less than 20 per cent to almost 90 per cent, which causes severe infectious diseases among people and increases the death rates. As of 2017, 59.5 per cent of Indian Citizens have access to "at least basic sanitation". The NDA Government in India claims to have built around 110 million toilets all across India between 2014 and 2019, due to which the basic sanitation coverage went up from 38.7 per cent in October 2014 to 93.3 per cent in 2019.
As per the Sustainable Development Goal Target 6.2, it is essential to know what expenditure is required to achieve it – how much is needed, where, and when. UNICEF estimates that meeting this goal calls for a total of USD 105 billion - USD 36 billion for basic sanitation and an additional USD 69 billion for safely managed sanitation. If the state governments and private players work closely, India might achieve this goal way sooner than envisioned.