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1 Billion People practice open defecation because they do not have access to a toilet. 2.5 billion People do not have access to modern sanitation. The World Bank estimates the cost of this situation to be $260 billion dollars globally. This amounts to more than the entire GDP of some countries.

On average, inadequate sanitation costs countries 1.5% of their GDP. The impact on health, land value, tourism, and overall productivity is staggering. On average, a person practicing open defecation spends 2.5 days per year just looking for a private location to defecate. Chronic diarrhea is a primary health problem that often leads to death especially for children and the elderly. Missing school and work due to related health issues is a common part of life for people without proper sanitation facilities.

Improved sanitation provides a high rate of return equaling five times for every dollar invested. Other benefits include increased tourism, improved safety, higher land value, reliable water quality and overall improved dignity. These investments have a rapid rate of return. Invest costs can be recovered in as little as one year. The following infographic from the World Bank provides a clear picture of the situation.

Successful slave owners learned long ago that you gain higher productivity from healthy slaves. The modern World Bank scenario shows that if we give poor people toilets, it will help make wealthy people even richer and improve the overall quality of life for everyone.

What happens if we give poor people schools and even food? Could they eventually become wealthy? What happens if everyone becomes wealthy from investing in toilets? Who will support the service industry to clean these toilets? I guess we have to wait for another infographic from the World Bank to solve these problems.


© 2014 The World Bank Group

Via World Bank