Alassane Sow, World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia, and Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative to Cambodia, wrote an op-ed for The Phnom Penh Post. Read the op-ed below, courtesy of The Phnom Penh Post.Did you know that in communities where a high proportion of people defecate outdoors, children are on average shorter than children living in communities where most people use toilets?
If a year ago you told me that I would be able to speak authoritatively on the technical aspects of sanitation, I would have thought you were crazy! Kenya is my home; I am 130% Kenyan and have lived here my whole life. In all this time, I never fully realized the sanitation issues in my country. True, I knew the statistics but until recently I didn’t fully realize how the impact was hitting my home.
Did you know that, when you go shopping, you are acting as a Budget-Constrained Utility Maximizer? Or, in common parlance, you are trying to maximize your happiness, welfare or living standard with the cash you have in your pocket.
Open defecation – going outside without using a toilet or latrine – is one of the most important threats to child health and human capital, period; ending it must be a policy priority.
In 2007, when I started to work on rural sanitation in Tanzania, I was intrigued to see the plethora of reports highlighting the ‘sanitation crisis’ in Africa. Of all the Millennium Development Goals, Africa was performing worst in meeting the sanitation target. This message was repeated during the International Year of Sanitation and through the eThekwini Declaration and Commitments in 2008, at AfricaSan3 in 2011, and in the WHO/Unicef Joint Monitoring Programme report on progress toward MDGs released last month. But progress is slow. It’s time for us to engage with other groups and sectors that are affected by inadequate sanitation – health, education, environment, and finance.