London, Jul 18: The United Nations has said that nearly 5,000 children die each day from diarrhoea-related illness and the number of people around the world without clean drinking water has halved since 1990. But more needs to be done to provide basic sanitation, two UN agencies report has pointed. UNICEF and the World Health Organization said that 2.5 billion people had inadequate or non-existent toilets, mostly in Asia and Africa.
The lack of facilities causes most of the 5,000 deaths each day of children from diarrhoea-related illness. While the number of people practising open defecation has dropped by a quarter since 1990 to less than 18 percent, approximately 1.2 billion people do not use toilets, which the UN agencies warn leaves them at great risk. "Close to half the population in Southern Asia still practises open defecation," Clarissa Brocklehurst, Unicef's chief of water and environmental sanitation, told the BBC.
"We cannot expect child mortality rates to drop unless that figure improves, as access to clean water and sanitation underlie so many UN development targets."
More than 90 percent of the world's population will have clean water by 2015, the report predicts.
If we want to break the stranglehold of poverty... we must address water and sanitation, said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO director-general.