Are you sure?

UN survey shows: More than 2 billion people without toilets

If the topic generates discomfort or shyness, the United Nations Monday recommended consideration of this fact: 2.6 billion people - or nearly half the world's population - still do not have toilets.

The figure was released as the organization prepares to discuss the International Year of Sanitation in 2008. The lack of proper sanitation increases the risk of preventable diseases, which hit children harder in poor countries. Currently two of five people on earth do not have sanitation, a problem prompting the UN General Assembly to declare the international year to highlight problems caused by the lack of toilets. The international year is chaired by the Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. „As far as I am concerned, this meeting will focus on one central question: What do we want to achieve by the end of 2008, and how do we achieve it,” he says in prepared remarks. Willem-Alexander says concrete projects and partnerships have to be drawn up, backed by statistics and funding, before November.

The UN said over 1 billion people worldwide have received sanitation in the past 14 years thanks to efforts by the international community to meet demands by the world population, which now stands at 6.6 billion. Of the 2.6 billion people still without toilets, an estimated 980 million are children. „Children are especially vulnerable to diseases caused by the lack of proper sanitation,” said Ann Veneman, the director of the UN Children's Fund, in advance of the preparatory meeting at UN headquarters in New York while she was visiting Asia. „Poor sanitation, hygiene and unsafe water claim the lives of an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five every year,” Veneman said. (