Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Waste Scavengers of India

 As today is World Toilet Day, I am re-posting the UN Secretary General's comments for this occasion. I am also posting below a short video on the Bhangis of India. They are of the lowest of the low, the dalits, or untouchables. It is the job of these Bhangis, generation after generation, to work as waste scavengers. This includes the emptying of public toilets in their communities, everyday, with their bare hands. Illegal since 1993, waste scavening continues. While one group has the benefit of basic sanitation, another endures hardship and disease to make it possible.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

New York, 24 July 2013 - Statement by the Deputy Secretary-General on adoption of the General Assembly resolution 'Sanitation for All'

I am delighted and grateful that Member States have adopted a resolution officially designating November 19th as World Toilet Day.  I thank the Government of Singapore for its leadership on a crucially important global issue.  This new annual observance will go a long way toward raising awareness about the need for all human beings to have access to sanitation.

Despite progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, one in three people do not have a basic toilet.  Almost 2,000 children die every day from preventable diarrhoeal diseases. Poor sanitation and water supply result in economic losses estimated at $260 billion annually in developing countries. 

Proper sanitation is also a question of basic dignity.  It is unacceptable that women have to risk being the victims of rape and abuse, just to do something that most of us take for granted.  It is also unacceptable that many girls are pushed out of school for lack of basic sanitation facilities. 
This new resolution builds on the General Assembly’s “Sustainable sanitation: the drive to 2015”, agreed in 2010, and adds momentum to the Call to Action on Sanitation that I, on behalf of the Secretary-General, launched in March this year. 

I urge every country to accelerate progress towards a world in which everyone enjoys this most basic of rights.  I look forward to working with all partners to make Sanitation for All a reality.

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