New Delhi: South Asian
nations lose five percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
annually because of lack of sanitation facilities and unhygienic
behaviour, the Unicef said Monday.
Presenting some alarming statistics at the South Asian Conference on
Sanitation held in Colombo Monday, Daniel Toole, Unicef's regional
director for South Asia, said that of the 1.5 billion people living
in South Asia, 65 percent lack basic sanitation even today.
The three-day conference which began Monday saw the participation of
senior ministers and secretaries of all the South Asian nations
including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan,
Afghanistan and the Maldives.
It also saw the participation of officials of World Health
Organisation (WHO), WaterAid, Water Supply Sanitation Collaborative
Council besides civil society members working in the sector.
According to experts, Sri Lanka is the only country in the whole
region where 95 percent population has been covered with improved
sanitation facilities and the conference aims at learning and
sharing from the success of Sri Lanka.
"There is no single recipe to address the problem in different
nations in the South Asia but this at least provides a platform to
these nations for formulation of their strategies with the help of
expert civil society organisations working in the sector," said
Dinesh Gunawardena, the Sri Lankan minister for water supply and
Clarissa Brocklehurst, Unicef global chief of water, sanitation and
hygiene, said: "The burden of diarrhoeal deaths in South Asian
countries is manifold in comparison to the burden of AIDS, malaria
and tuberculosis combined together. Over 1.4 million deaths in this
part of the world take place annually due to lack of sanitation,
hygiene and water related diseases or injury".
The statement said that in July 2010, all governments in South Asia
voted in support of a UN General Assembly resolution to declare
water and sanitation a basic human right.
In order to ensure that the resolution is converted into legislation
by the governments of South Asian countries, the civil society
organisations decided in the conference to lobby for the same in
their respective nations, the statement added.