Sanitation crisis bigger killer than any war: Sulabh chief

March 31st, 2009 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) Water-borne diseases claim more lives than any war, the head of an NGO credited with improving the sanitation system across India said Tuesday.
“At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water related diseases. Sanitation crisis, therefore, claims more lives than any war possibly can,” Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the Sulabh Sanitation Movement, said at a press meet here.

“This is why public health and hygiene is a very important issue that needs more attention and work to be done upon,” he said.

Winner of the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize, Pathak is credited with developing a simple twin pit, pour-flush toilet system used in more than 1.2 million residences and buildings.

The facilities, which are pay-per-use, offer “an economically sustainable, ecological, and culturally acceptable solution to hygiene problems in crowded slum communities and public places.”

“There are three main challenges that India faces today - water and sanitation problems and social reform. Through the various efforts of Sulabh International, I want to provide the people from backward communities with resources and help them fight social discrimination,” Pathak said.

People involved in manual scavenging - and most of these people are from the lower castes - especially have a lot to thank Pathak for. Although it still exists in parts of India, many manual scavengers have now been rehabilitated and work with Sulabh International.

Usha, a former scavenger from Alwar, Rajathan, who now works with Sulabh international, said: “Bindeshwar-ji has not only helped me fight against social discrimination, but has also helped me get basic education. Today I am living a life of economic independence sans any discrimination from people of the higher castes.”

According to Pathak, one of the technologies evolved by Sulabh that helps fight global warming is the effective usage of water while flushing the toilet.

“On an average, a person uses 10 litres of water while flushing everyday. But with our technology, only 1.5 litres of water is used. This huge difference in water usage is just one of the many ways to fight climate change,” he said.

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