Much heard, but never spoken of….. Surprising, astonishing, or shocking… Whatever you may frame it as. There are more mobile phones on Earth than clean toilets, if that has embarked you in the third worlds’ never ending list of problems, then here it is… One of the most vexing challenges facing governments, on the 20th anniversary of the United Nations’ World Water Day. Spare a second, and give it a thought; how often do you easily find a toilet, than you connect the entire globe in your little smart phone, or feature phone?
- The Statistics
Take into account a few statistics, as an outcome of the study. Astoundingly, the study reveals that, there are 6 billion mobile phones, according to the International Telecommunication Union, while 1.2 billion of the planet’s 7 billion people lack clean drinking water, and 2.4 billion are not connected to wastewater systems. However, only 4.5 billion have a proper access to a toilet.
There numerous people in the developing countries who face this dilemma. Interestingly, the report states that India alone is responsible for 60 percent of the world’s population that does not use a toilet, an estimated 626 million individuals. Yet at the same time, there are an estimated 1 billion cell phones in India.
- Basic amenities
The root cause of this prevailing problem lies in the improper or absolutely negligible water supply. Water scarcity caused by leaks from faulty pipes is another significant problem in the developing countries. Absence of toilets and other sanitation, leads to open defecation, or unhygienic living conditions. The world’s population is three times larger now than it was in 1950. In the past 40 years, water use has doubled. No message on water should pass without mentioning sanitation. Lack of infrastructure in the developing countries, with regards to water supply, is of course, the cause of lesser number of toilets.
Why just developing nations? The problem prevails in developed nations as well, where the government or municipal authorities are ignorant towards installing toilets. It is easier to put a phone in someone’s hand than it is to build a proper sanitation system. Developing nations, however, face this situation, all the more gravely. In India, where the slum-dwellers cannot afford a daily living, there is a rare possibility of clean water supply for drinking, or healthy sanitation facilities.
That phenomenon is easily visible in Indonesia, for instance, where it is common to see people who live in metal roofed shacks, without bathrooms surfing Facebook on their smart phones. And it shows how, in the developing world, multinationals are often better at responding to peoples’ needs than governments are.
- Health risks
Unhygienic conditions and diseases walk hand-in hand. Around 1.1 billion people live in countries where defecating in the open is still a particularly common practice. But all they have cell phones in their hand.
Open defecation is most common in rural areas of countries where there is the highest rate of children dying before they reach their fifth birthdays, high rates of malnutrition and poverty, and significant health disparities. While not widely discussed, it causes illnesses such as diarrhoea, which kills 4,500 children daily. Poor sanitation also hobbles emerging markets economically. According to the UN, the problem costs India $53.8 billion a year, while Nigeria loses $3 billion annually.
Eventually, to conclude with, the future lies in our hands, at the touch of our fingers, on the commandment of our senses. But, we must not forget that human beings do not merely exist for progress, we are accountable for our own living conditions. Make provisions for basic necessities as well, while you are busy with high-end technical developments. Not that mobile phones are essentially bad, it is all dependent upon how we human beings decipher our priorities!
Author Bio: Jabeen Shaikh is a blogger and writes for Bathrooms News, the blog for latest bathroom updates.