NEW DELHI: If people in India waiting for household toilets stand in a line, the queue would stretch from the Earth to the moon and beyond, as over 774 million people in India do not have access to private toilets.
It would take 5,892 years for the queue to work through, assuming each person needs about four minutes in the toilet, said a report published by WaterAid, an NGO working on improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
According to the report, Its No Joke: The State of the Worlds Toilets 2015, the number of people without access to private toilets in India, the worlds second most populous nation, is more than double the runner-up on the list, China. Around 330 million people in China do not have toilets in their homes. The figure globally goes up all the way to 2.3 billion.
India also tops the list of countries with most people defecating in the open per square kilometre as approximately half of Indias population defecates in the open. As many as 569 million defecates in the open, which translates into 173 people defecating in the open for every square kilometre in the country, 101 people per square kilometre more than runner-up Haiti.
The report notes that the health crisis due to lack of sanitation facilities in India is a serious matter, as more than 140,000 children under the age of five die each year from diarrhoea.
Situation not so rosy in Pakistan
The situation in Pakistan is also bleak, as it ranks sixth on the list of countries with the longest queues for toilets. Over 68 million people in Pakistan do not enjoy the luxury of having private toilets.
On average, as many as 25 people per square kilometre practice open defecation in Pakistan.
However, there is some hope as Pakistan has made some improvement in providing people access to sanitation. Compared to 1990, when over 76% of the people did not have access to proper sanitation facilities, the figure has come down to 36.5%
When people defecate in the open or use make-shift toilets which leak its contents, there is no way to prevent faeces from contaminating the environment as one gram of faeces carries up to 1 million bacteria and 10 million viruses and minute amounts contaminate your hands, food and water, and spread diseases.
This faecal-oral transmission of disease takes place when the barriers of toilets, safe water and hygiene are not in place and minute particles of faeces get onto fingers, or are spread by flies, picked up in fields, spread through fluids (including waterways) and then ingested, either directly or when a person eats contaminated food. In addition, flies carrying faeces can land on faces, spreading infections or blinding eye disease.
The contamination routes include water polluted by pit latrines or open defecation, food prepared in the presence of faecal matter, poor or no hand washing after using the toilet or changing nappies, and poor or no cleaning of anything that has been in contact with faeces.
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