Image courtesy of erikogan
Sanitation - a service the great majority of us largely take for granted - remains unavailable to a majority of the Brazilian population according to a new report. The Instituto Trata Brasil (ITB), a non-governmental organization, estimates that only 47% of the population is currently connected to the main sewage system; universal coverage will likely be achieved in 2122, 115 years from now.
Unlike improvements in garbage collection and electricity distribution, efforts to overhaul the country's moribund sewage network have been sluggish at best - contributing to a stubbornly high mortality rate among children under six from infectious diseases such as diarrhea. Indeed, the report notes that the lack of sanitation has caused about 700,000 yearly hospital admissions over the past decade; the ITB notes that for every real ($0.57) invested in sanitation, the equivalent of $2.28 could be saved on health spending. In addition, an expansion in the sewer system could stimulate the economy by generating new jobs and providing more investment opportunities for local businesses. Better sewage treatment need not even be more complicated, argues Carlos Graeff, a specialist in infectious diseases, who cites the example a small-scale treatment system in the state of Santa Catarina that cleans sewage up to 80% using only 3 tanks with filters.
He lamented the fact that many small communities that have come up with cost-effective, ingenious solutions to treat their sewage have yet to receive government funding. This sobering report comes just a few weeks before the start of 2008, which the UN has deemed the International Year of Sanitation.
Via ::IPS: BRAZIL: Sanitation for All...in 115 Years (news website)