Canada Should Fight Global Poverty by Investing in Sanitation and Water: SWAN Canada

    OTTAWA, March 20 /CNW Telbec/ - On the eve of World Water Day (March 22),
a coalition of Canadian organizations concerned about the global sanitation
crisis is calling on the Canadian government to make investment in sanitation
and water a foreign aid priority. In an open letter sent to Minister of
International Cooperation Beverley Oda, Sanitation & Water Action Network
(SWAN) Canada called for increased investment in sanitation as a way to save
lives, strengthen economies, and fight poverty around the globe.
    2.6 billion people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation like toilets
or safe latrines. As a result, millions die of preventable diseases each
year - some 5,000 children every day. Globally, the economic cost of the
sanitation and water crisis is approximately $38 billion annually; in
contrast, every dollar spent on sanitation yields an average economic benefit
of $9.
    "Sanitation and water investments deliver cost-effective and concrete
poverty-fighting results," said SWAN Canada coordinator George Yap. "Engaging
governments on the issue of sanitation is particularly challenging - no one
wants to talk about how roads in slum areas become rivers of sewage when it
rains, or how people have to defecate in plastic bags because they don't have
anywhere else to go. But doing something as simple as building safe latrines
for a school, or educating people on the importance of washing their hands can
lead to dramatic improvements in quality of life."
    According to the United Nations, improving sanitation can actually
accelerate progress in key areas of the Millennium Development Goals, the
global targets that Canada and other countries have committed to achieving by
2015, such as eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality, providing
universal primary education, promoting gender equality, and ensuring
environmental sustainability. To highlight the issue, the UN has designated
2008 as the International Year of Sanitation.
    One way that Canada could take immediate action is to support the Global
Sanitation Fund. The Fund was recently launched by the UN's Water Supply and
Sanitation Collaborative Council ( to mobilize the international
community and coordinate efforts to address the crisis.
    The UN estimates that with sustained funding, basic sanitation for the
entire world could be achieved within one to two decades. In relative terms,
the cost of this global investment (approx. $10 billion per year) is about
one-third of yearly spending on bottled water.

    For more information or to read SWAN Canada's letter to Minister Oda,
visit <a href=""></a>.

    SWAN Canada is a coalition of Canadian non-governmental organizations
united in the belief that improving global access to safe, affordable, and
sustainable water supply and sanitation services needs to be a foreign aid
priority for Canada. Coalition members include: AMREF Canada, CARE Canada,
Canadian Physicians for Aid & Relief, Harbinger Foundation, Oxfam Canada,
Results Canada, Ryan's Well Foundation, Save the Children Canada, WaterCan,
Water for People Canada, Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, and World
Vision Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Erinn Steringa, SWAN Canada, (613) 230-5182,
ext. 228, (613) 889-9865 (mobile),

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