Today, the Hunger and Undernutrition Blog saw a guest post from Christopher Juan Costain of the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program in South Asia. His main point being that sanitation has historically been largely overlooked as a contributing factor to child malnutrition. Yet, in fact, it is not only a player in it, but investing in better sanitation is economically one of the most cost effective ways to lower instances of undernourishment. Here are some selected sh!t related facts and figures:
- 51% of people India practice open defecation. This is highly linked to malnutrition since around 50% of the consequences of under-nutrition can be attributed to poor environmental health conditions, which result in diseases such as diarrhoea, environmental enteropathy, and nematode infections
- In fact, 25% of all child stunting, can be attributed to having experienced more than 5 episodes of diarrhoea
- Environmental enteropathy means that the faecal matter ingested by kids in large quantities because of poor sanitation damages the stomach wall and causes poorer absorption of nutrients
- Just getting people to use toilets reduced instances of diarrhoea by 36%
- Installing simple latrines is cheap and accessible (those interested should check out the work done by the comically named The World Toilet Organisation, WTO).
The simple take away from this is that development desperately needs a more holistic approach rather than one that has clear set, but undeniably separate goals. This is something that I have argued before and is something that is evident here.
Tackling malnutrition would have positive effects on educational attainment and future job and work prospects too, as it is well documented that poor nutrition leads to lower concentration, retention and general energy levels of children. Not to mention the number of school days they are likely to miss if suffering from diarrhoea and other sanitation-food related inflictions.
The post MDG framework should focus on the interconnectivity of ‘development problems’ and seek system-wide solutions.
By Ioulia Fenton, Online Lead, Generation Development
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