Sanitation and Health

Beyond pollution linked to the environment, wastewater management and health are intrinsically linked. Yet 80% of wastewater in so-called developing countries is untreated.

Sanitation and health: Unsafe water kills 1.5 million children every year

88% of deaths from diarrhoeal diseases are caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Out of a total of 57 million deaths per year worldwide from all diseases, water-related diseases cause 3.6 million deaths each year, including 1.5 million children. They are not the world's leading cause of death, but they are probably the most preventable, by treating water and wastewater from human, agricultural and industrial sources.

The latest World Health Organization (WHO) reports show that the impact of diarrhoeal diseases on children is greater than the combined effect of the AIDS virus, tuberculosis and malaria.

Sanitation in so-called developing countries: a public health issue

Sanitation is also the link between public hygiene and the environment. It is not only about environmental policy. It is also a public health issue. The Ministry of Health is therefore at least as important as the Ministry of the Environment in dealing with this subject, which is not the case in most so-called developing countries on the grounds that it is not a noble subject.


* According to the 2006 UNDP report, the cost of not addressing the water and sanitation deficit is about 9 times higher than the cost of solving the problem.

The report points out that the cost to health systems in so-called developing countries is as much as $1.6 billion per year and 443 million school days lost each year. Investing in sanitation therefore reduces public spending on health.

* Based on the lowest assumptions, the investment required for universal access to sanitation is estimated at $11 billion per year.

* Universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation would cost between $20 and $30 billion per year for 10 years.

* UNESCO estimates that 50% of so-called emerging countries are exposed to polluted water sources.