Asia countries urged to invest in sanitation

Many Asian countries face huge financial costs to clean up the environment because of a lack of investment in sanitation, which is causing massive water pollution, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Tuesday.

 Asia countries urged to invest in sanitation

Many Asian countries face huge financial costs to clean up the environment because of a lack of investment in sanitation, which is causing massive water pollution, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Tuesday.

The Manila-based ADB noted that some 2 billion Asians - roughly 66 per cent of the population in the region - lack access to adequate sanitation, such as toilets, pit latrines, septic tanks and sewerage systems.

This accounts for nearly three-quarters of all those in the world without such facilities.

The bank warned that the financial cost of cleaning a river once it is already polluted with industrial waste or sewage is far higher than the cost of building the infrastructure needed to dispose of the pollutants properly.

"Sanitation must get top priority from the political leadership everywhere," Arjun Thapan, chair of ADB's Water Committee, said ahead of the World Water Week, a global conference on sanitation and other water issues to be held in Stockholm on August 12-18.

"They need to see sanitation as paying its way and not as being either unaffordable or a luxury," he added. "Politicians must also understand that postponing action is not an option. To do so, will cost a great deal more."

In Shanghai, for example, Chinese authorities had to spend 1 billion dollars to clean Suzhou Creek, which runs through the metropolis and used to be a health risk to residents.

Chinese officials admitted that the clean-up costs were many times what would have been needed to prevent it in the first place, the ADB said.

"Failure to act on sanitation and wastewater eventually comes home to roost when the problem results in a smelly, foul river that despoils a city and surround areas," Amy Leung, ADB principal urban development specialist, said.

"But the real horror is the outbreak of typhoid and cholera caused by inadequate sanitation," she added.

Such adverse health consequences hit the impoverished the hardest, and damaged entire economies with increased strain on health systems, decline in tourism income and loss of productivity.

India, for example, is estimated to lose more than 230 million dollars each year in tourism revenue because of perceptions of poor sanitation.

Last year China announced plans to invest 125 billion dollars in sanitation and wastewater treatment, a major step forward but still not enough to meet its people's needs, the ADB said.

The ADB said it has about 1.6 billion dollars in the pipeline for investments in sanitation between now and 2010. It has also dedicated an extra 20 million dollars as grant money to help governments and utilities improve their sanitation programmes.

DPA

Last Mod: 07 Ağustos 2007, 16:06
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