New Delhi, Nov 2: Sanitation facilities continue to elude India even as the country hosts a World Toilet Summit in New Delhi.
"Some of the problems with sanitation that causes diseases are trachoma, worm infestation and malaria," says Payden Searo, Regional Advisor, Water and Sanitation, (WHO).
A leading sanitation expert and founder member of the Sulabh International Bindeshwari Pathak aims at achieving United Nation's millennium goal of providing water and sanitation facilities to maximum number of people by 2015.
“Although sanitation is a problem world over, but a greater percentage of people suffering are from the Asian countries closely followed by the African countries and Latin America", Pathak added.
The common man in the street hopes that the situation might improve in near future.
"Women face a lot of problems. We have grown up daughters and we need to escort them to the defecation area. Also, men roam around and we have to defecate in amidst all that. It becomes embarrassing at times. I hope some steps are taken at the earliest," said Shakuntala, a slum dweller.
The slum dwellers also lamented that the government does little to provide them with hygienic health and sanitation facilities.
"Apart from the poor toilet facilities that we have the sewage system are also not is place. Most of the times, the sewers are blocked and give out a strong stench. If you walk in here, you will most likely step on the dirty water puddles," Ram Kumar, another slum dweller.
The World Toilet Summit that started on October 31 with exhibition of unique commodes basically concentrates on the challenges faced by the developing nations on account of sanitation issues.
Co-hosted by Sulabh International, health and sanitation experts from 40 countries are taking part to discuss the ways to provide proper sanitation facilities for poor people.
Despite all around advancement in social and economic fields, millions of people continue to remain deprived of access to hygienic toilet facilities.
According to the World Heath Organization (WHO), about 2.6 billion people have no access to toilets and more than half of them live either in India or China.
Experts say that sewerage systems are essentially a 19th century technology and we need modern solutions. Defecating in the open can contaminate water supplies and spread diseases like diarrhoea that kill thousands of people every year.
Indian government told the Summit that by 2012, India will be free of defecation in the open and will meet international commitments in this regard.