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The third world sewerage struggle

The third world sewerage struggle

Published: December 05, 2019 Last Updated: October 12, 2020

Many third world countries are experiencing an increase in urban development that their municipal development is failing to keep up with. Around 700 million people who live in urban environments in underdeveloped regions can not access a flushable toilet.

UNICEF and the World Health Organisation have recognised that over 2.4 billion people or 1 in 3 people worldwide still do not have access to proper toilets. 

Many third world countries are experiencing an increase in urban development that their municipal development is failing to keep up with. Around 700 million people who live in urban environments in underdeveloped regions can not access a flushable toilet, which is a vital factor in water body pollution and disease.

Some more affluent areas are able to access basic civic requirements however, the majority of towns have no way of using these facilities.

As said by WHO public-health director Dr Maria Neira, “Until everyone has access to adequate sanitation facilities, the quality of water supplies will be undermined and too many people will continue to die from waterborne and water-related diseases”. If this lack of hygiene in sewerage processes in these countries continues, the population will be facing a huge water-related epidemic. 

India - Varinasi Ganges

Clean India Project

To remove open defecation and open sewers across India by October 2019, in 2014 the Indian government introduced a major drive known as ‘Clean India’. A range of film festivals, walkathons, folk media, and other activities were conducted around the country to promote the program to the public. This was also supported by Bollywood Celebrities, sports stars, activists, politicians, and UNICEF ambassadors to raise awareness of the issue. The program has extensively controlled the sewage issue which was introducing a degree of environmental pollution to the country.

From the ‘Clean India’ project, over 100 million toilets were built in the last five years across the country under a range of building schemes. Data from the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey demonstrated that from this sewerage drive India’s rural sanitation increased significantly to 98 per cent. Across 615 districts, this construction covered close to 5.5 million villages and one million households. Although there was a lot of great change, India still has a range of sanitation issues that must be fixed before the country is entirely sanitized.

Toilet Revolution Campaign

Despite China’s high economic status, open sewers and ineffective sanitation is a large problem. In 2015, the ‘Toilet Revolution Campaign’ was put in place in an effort to improve sanitary conditions across mainland and rural China. 

The Chinese Government also has received a number of complaints from foreigners regarding the quality of public toilets near tourist attractions, so public toilets were also a concern of the project.

During a period of two years (2015-2017), more than 68 000 public toilets were built in China, and in 2017 64 000 more toilets were planned to be constructed. 

State media reported that malaria and other diseases were being spread as a result of poor sanitation in the rural areas of China. To counteract this, in 2017 the government expanded the project geographically to improve the low quality of sanitation across rural areas. 

A large number of migrants from rural or underdeveloped areas experience unhygienic living conditions due to the unaffordability of urban homes. Many migrants and people with low socioeconomic status are forced to live in unsafe and unsanitary environments. Generally waste is flushed directly onto the street as toilets installed in these homes are not connected to any civic sewers. 

Neglected older neighbourhoods are a hygiene concern for China also. These types of areas are generally inhabited by older generations of Chinese citizens who rely on communal waste collection stations as they use traditional night pots. 

It is a basic human right to have access to adequate sewerage and toilets. This continued poor waste treatment and management is the cause of a range of epidemics, as well as water and environmental pollution.    


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