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Sanitation, Access to Safe Water Improving

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Good health and human well being is directly linked to access to sanitation and clean potable water.

Key Indicators of Public Health

UNICEF and WHO Sanitation Report update 2012 released recently reveals that 2.6 billion people around the world do not use  improved sanitation facilities. Of these 72 % people live in our part of the world, i.e., Asia. The report paints a rosy picture in that it reports improvement in sanitation situation across the world. However while the share of those who were defecating in open was  declining, they were still rising in absolute numbers. As a whole 949 million people in 2010 were defecating in the open. Of these 626  million were in India alone. Of the 2.4 lakh gram panchayats in the country, only 24,000 were completely free of open defecation. The  proportion of the world population that practices open defecation declined by almost one third from 25% in 1990 to 17% in 2008. A  decline in open defecation rates was recorded in all regions. In Sub-Saharan Africa, open defecation rates fell by 25%. In absolute  numbers, the population practising open defecation increased, however, from 188 million in 1990 to 224 million in 2008. In Southern Asia, home to 64% of the world population that defecate in the open, the practice decreased the most ““ from 66% in 1990 to 44% in  2008. Eighty one per cent of 1.1 billion people that defecate in the open in the world live in 10 countries: India (646 million), China  (477 million), Indonesia(110 million), Nigeria(109 million), Pakistan (91 million), Bangladesh (66 million), Ethiopia ( 66 million), Dem.  Rep of Congo (50 million), Russian Federation (43 million), Tanzania (40 million), Brazil (40 million). According to the WHO, the open  defecation is the ‘riskiest sanitary practice of all’.

Access to Safe Drinking Water The use of improved sources of drinking-water is high globally, with 87% of the world population and  84% of the people in developing regions getting their drinking-water from such sources. Even so, 884 million people in the world still  do not get their drinkingwater from improved sources, almost all of them in developing regions. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for over  a third of that number, and is lagging behind in progress towards the MDG target, with only 60% of the population using improved sources of drinking-water despite an increase of 11 percentage points since 1990. Of the approximately 1.3 billion people who gained access to improved sanitation  during the period 1990-2008, 64% live in urban areas. However urban areas, though better served than  rural areas, are struggling to keep up with the growth of the urban population. Worldwide, 87% of the population gets their drinking- water from improved sources, and the corresponding figure for developing regions is also high at 84%. While 94% of the urban population of developing regions uses improved sources, it is only 76% of rural populations. Almost 751 million people share their  sanitation facilities. These facilities are shared between two or more households. (Source: Information extracted and edited from  http://www.unicef.org/ media/files/JMPreport2012.pdf)