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Toilet is a magic bullet that can save lives of children, prevent diseases, reduce malnutrition and increase productivity, leading to better economic growth in Tamil Nadu : Job Zachariah [ Chief, UNICEF ]

Job Zachariah Chennai, May 12, 2015 :: The corporate sector was called upon to invest their CSR funds in the water and sanitation sector as it will benefit not only the individuals using the facilities but the entire community. When a family starts using the toilets, health of all family members, especially children, stands to benefit who otherwise are exposed to disease pathogens.

Inaugurating the CII’s conference on Swaach Bharat Mission, Hon’ble Governor of Tamil Nadu, Dr K. Rosaiah said “CII’s intervention in Swaach Bharat Mission in partnership with UNICEF need to sensitize and generate awareness on sanitation, construction and maintenance of toilets, promote behaviour change in schools, and build repository on innovation and good practices with respect to technology, designs and models”. He called for strengthening the knowledge on sanitation.

Drawing the attention of the Confederation of India Industry (CII) and its members on the benefits they can reap by investing in sanitation, Job Zachariah, Chief, UNICEF said “It is estimated that CSR fund of corporates in Tamil Nadu is about 1000 crore per year. If they spend half of the CSR funds in promoting construction and use of toilets, it will be the best investment. Because Toilet is a magic bullet that can save lives of children, prevent diseases, reduce malnutrition and increase productivity, leading to better economic growth in Tamil Nadu. One rupee invested in water and sanitation gives return of Rs 9.”

According to World Bank study in 2010, open defecation leads to economic loss equivalent to 6.4% of GDP of India. The state domestic product of Tamil Nadu is about 8 lakh crore per year at current prices. This means that economic loss caused by open defecation in Tamil Nadu is Rs 50,000 crore per year or equivalent to loss of Rs.30, 000 per family annually in Tamil Nadu.

Mr Zachariah apprised that the practice of open defecation is a major source of diseases which can be fatal in the community. “Bacteria and viruses released in open defecation leads to death and malnutrition among children. It is estimated that 40% of death of children due to diarrhoea, can be prevented by use of toilets. Open defecation also leads to stunting among children”.

As per Census 2011, in Tamil Nadu, about 46% of the population, that is 3.5 crore people living in 85 lakh houses in the state do not have toilet and therefore they defecate in the open. One gram of feces contains one crore bacteria and virus. Considering that a person releases 300 grams of feces every day, thus the release of 300 crores bacteria and virus every day by a person who defecate in the open.

As per census 2011, the households without toilets in Tamil Nadu is highest in Ariyalur (82%) followed by Dharmapuri (81%), Villupuram (79%), Perumbalur (78%) and Thiruvannamalai (77%). The coverage of houses with toilets is highest in Chennai (96%) and Kanyakumari (88%).

The Swaach Bharat Mission aims to achieve 100% toilet coverage in all households by 2019.

Information was given by  Sugata Roy [ Communication Specialist
UNICEF State Office for Tamil Nadu and Kerala ]

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