Sanitation is instrumental in boosting the economic development of a country by affording the means for a healthy workforce, while slashing the demand on public health services. UNICEF declares that if everyone in the world had access to running water and sanitation amenities, the drop-in diarrhoea would save the health sector enormous amounts of money and increase…productivity.


Because sanitation has so many effects across all aspects of development – it affects education, it affects health, it affects maternal mortality and infant mortality, it affects labour – it’s all these things, so it becomes a political football. Nobody has full responsibility. – Rose George

I never used to think much about clean water or having clean surroundings; I took it for granted all through my long sojourn in the United States. This past year I have had to do major rethinking about sanitation. Let’s start with water – we use it to take our bath, make breakfast, stay hydrated, keep clean, clean up our homes, flush our toilets… see how much gets done with water! Hopefully this helps us to realise how integral water is to our lives.

Currently water and sanitation are in a dire situation in most parts of Lagos State and there is a direct correlation to ending hardship, in getting sanitation right.

The World Bank has research stating that good hygiene is the most economical health intermediation available.

What does sanitation entail? Sanitation is about providing amenities that can safely dispose of all sorts of waste and maintain public hygiene. This involves operating immaculate and non-toxic toilets, keeping water supplies clean and disposing garbage safely.

Sanitation is a global issue that affects the health and well-being of all populations, and their environment.

Here are four reasons why increased funding for water and sanitation is super important in ending excessive poverty.

Infections

Sanitation is directly related to the health of all humans and can thwart the hazardous spread of diseases. Deficient sanitation is a major cause of disease, with more than 50 per cent of the world’s hospital beds filled with people experiencing sanitation-related diseases. Research carried out by the Hesperian Foundation bears this fact out. Illnesses like diarrhea, worms, cholera and malaria instigated by poor sanitation unnecessarily take the lives of millions of people every day, with diarrhea alone being responsible for the deaths of close to 5,000 children a day, as UNICEF states.

The provision of sanitary environments, such as proper toilets, clean flowing water and a means of harmless garbage disposal can therefore prevent the occurrence of such extensive diseases and deaths.

Education

Education and sanitation are tied hip to hip. Sanitation enables children to have fair access to education, to help them thrive in life as adults. The United Nations states that diseases borne from the lack of good sanitation can chave a knock-on effect on a child’s education.

When children have consecutive intestinal infections, these deprive them of important nutrients, delay their development and culminate in poor school turnout and performance. The effects of poor sanitation in underdeveloped nations are mostly felt by girls, according to UNICEF.

Girls are often the main household chore bearers, saddled with the task of walking miles to fetch clean water, and which causes make of them to drop out from school.

Economic Development

Sanitation is instrumental in boosting the economic development of a country by affording the means for a healthy workforce, while slashing the demand on public health services. UNICEF declares that if everyone in the world had access to running water and sanitation amenities, the drop-in diarrhoea would save the health sector enormous amounts of money and increase social productivity.

Environment

Sanitation plays an important part in protecting the environment and promoting sustainability. In the absence of good sanitation, such as proper toilet facilities and sewage disposal methods, waste is disposed of in the streets, and creates foul odour. This waste then finds its way into untreated rivers, polluting the water, killing plants and animals, and posing a health risk to those depending on this water for bathing and cleaning purposes.

I am more concerned about the desensitisation of sanitation as a norm and accepting filthy environments within the psyches (mindsets) of our children. This is truly worrisome because children have no idea about the extent of damage that bad sanitation will unleash on them.

Adetola Salau, Carismalife4U@gmail.com, an advocate of STEM education, public speaker, author, and social entrepreneur, is passionate about education reform.