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SOUTH ASIA's SANITATION COVERAGE STILL ALARMING

Sarid, February 17, 2007

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) argues that despite the progress that has been made on both the water and sanitation front, sanitation coverage in South Asia is still among the lowest in the world, at 37 per cent, about the same as that in sub-Saharan Africa.

The situation is of particular concern for the region’s youth, as the child mortality in South Asia is still alarming. In Bangladesh, despites significant efforts and strides in lowering infant and child mortality, no less than a hundred children still die each day from diarrhea, caused by poor hygiene and sanitation. “These  factors,” UNICEF notes, “also cast negative impacts on children’s, especially girl students’, school attendance and academic performance, and the dignity of women by exposing them to open and unsafe sanitary options.”

When it comes to sanitation coverage, UNICEF warns that South Asia also has the most severe urban-rural disparities in the world. While the number of people in urban areas without access to sanitation increased from 139 million in 1990 to 153 million in 2004, urban populations are more than twice as likely as rural populations to have access to sanitation.

In many areas of South Asia, such as Bangladesh, naturally occurring arsenic and fluoride contamination are threatening to reverse the gains made in providing improved drinking water. Unsafe levels of arsenic have been also detected in India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

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The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): http://www.unicef.org

30 million people across Bangladesh to benefit from DFID/UNICEF partnership on water and sanitation: http://www.unicef.org/media/media_38126.html



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