Where do these costs come from?
Poor sanitation has a range of negative impacts on society and the economy, from causing debilitating and deadly diseases via the contamination of drinking water sources and food with pathogen laden human waste, to associated losses in productivity due to sickness and toilet access, and increased healthcare costs from caring for the sick. Equally important, though difficult to measure in dollar terms, is the risk of attack faced by women and girls who must find a secluded place away from their homes to relieve themselves, children and young adults missing out on education because there is nowhere private to manage menstruation with dignity, or children suffering from malnutrition caused by diarrheal disease.
Sanitation Costs in Four Dimensions
- Diarrhoeal disease, of which unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene are the major contributing factor, is significant in communities with poor access to sanitation and it is according to the World Health Organization (WHO) the 7th biggest killer in the world, responsible for 1.5 million deaths in 2012, higher than tuberculosis (900,000 deaths in 2012) and malaria (438,000 deaths in 2015)1.
Every life lost needlessly because of poor sanitation has an incalculable emotional cost on the family of the deceased. Each premature death also puts economic strain on the family and country of residence, calculated by the discounted potential income lost due to each life unlived to its full potential.
- Aside from diarrhea related mortality, millions of people are unable to maximize their economic productivity due to sickness and disease caused by the pathogens contained in human waste. Billions of hours of labor are lost every year, with a significant impact on the global economy.
- Treatment for sanitation related disease, whether provided by the state or paid for by the individual (in a child's case, their guardians) through insurance or direct payment, takes money out of the economy that could otherwise have been spent differently.
- ACCESS TO SANITATION:
- In many countries, a significant proportion of the population does not have easy access to a toilet and therefore must use public facilities, which they must queue for, or find a place for open defecation. Both queuing and looking for a site for open defecation take time that could otherwise be used for economic pursuits, and therefore have a negative economic impact.
MORE THAN HALF
OF GLOBAL COSTS
Around 55% of the costs associated with poor sanitation are the result of premature death. A further quarter are due to the cost of treating related disease. Other costs are related to lower productivity due to illness and time lost due to lack of access to a toilet.