The Human Impact

Community project frees 24 million from open defecation – UNICEF

At least 24 million people living in 39,000 communities in 50 countries have eliminated open defecation over the past five years, signalling that progress is being made in the fight to help 1.1 billion people who do not use proper facilities, the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) reported on Monday.

Under its Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) programme, UNICEF aims to eliminate open defecation by encouraging social and behavioural change among villagers leading to the construction of latrines.

“No aid operation in the world can provide toilets for 1.1 billion people,” said Therese Dooley, UNICEF’s senior advisor on sanitation, on World Toilet Day.

“They have to do it for themselves – with support. And we’ve found, in fact, that it is only when they do it for themselves that the changes are achievable and sustainable,” she added in a statement.

A lack of toilets remains one of the leading causes of illness and death among children. UNICEF estimates that around 2 million children die each year from pneumonia and diarrhoea, illnesses that are largely preventable with improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene.

UN 2015 development goals must tackle open defecation -expert

(Contains offensive language in paragraph 15)

Experts have crafted tentative development goals to improve sanitation for the 1.1 billion people who are forced to practise open defecation due to poor water supplies, a lack of toilets and absent sewage systems.

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, says at least 15 percent of the world’s population regularly defecates in fields, forests, bushes, bodies of water or other open spaces, putting health at risk.

The combined effects of improper sanitation, unsafe water supply and poor personal hygiene are responsible for 88 percent of childhood deaths from diarrhoea and are estimated to cause more than 3,000 child deaths per day, UNICEF says.

UN agencies urge speed in fight against W.Africa cholera

More than 1,100 people have died from cholera infection this year in West Africa, and a total of 55,289 cases have been reported in 15 countries — an increase of 34 percent compared to the same period in 2011, according to a joint statement released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency.

The cholera emergency in West Africa is set to get much worse due to rain and flooding that is creating conditions for the disease to spread quicker and further, the statement said.

In some of the most affected countries the situation has been made worse by exceptionally heavy rains that have flooded shanty towns in some urban centres, it said. The disease is spreading in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo and in western Niger.

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