23 December 2008

Waste Matters ~ Understanding Water & Sanitation

Thanks to TIME's Bryan Walsh for spotlighting Toilet Tales: Inside the World of Waste about the subject matter of Rose George's new book The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters. Walsh writes...
"Toilets are a privilege that nearly half the world lacks. At least 2.6 billion people around the planet have no access to a toilet -- and that doesn't just mean that they don't have a nice, heated indoor bathroom. It means they have nothing -- not a public toilet, not an outhouse, not even a bucket. They defecate in public, contaminating food and drinking water, and the disease toll due to unsanitized human waste is staggering. George notes that 80% of the world's illnesses are caused by fecal matter... And it's all for lack of a toilet, which may be why George isn't one for toilet jokes. "I don't think 2.6 billion people without a toilet is very funny," she writes. But despite the horrific fate of the toiletless masses across much of South America, Africa and Asia, sanitation has never been high on the world's development agenda. NGOs and governments focus on making sure the poor have access to enough clean drinking water, but comparatively little funding goes into sanitation, even though the two are sometimes inextricable: Untreated sewage often ends up poisoning the available clean water in developing nations. In The Big Necessity, George makes a passionate argument for putting sanitation at the top of the global development agenda, profiling the efforts of redoubtable activists fighting a war for toilets."

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