India losing Rs 2.4 trillion due to poor hygiene: WB report

The world's second fastest growing economy that is aiming for a double digit growth rate, would do well to provide toilets to its poor citizens and could save Rs 1.48 trillion by improving the hygiene of its people, the report said.

The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Sanitation in India, a new report from the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) estimated that inadequate sanitation causes the country losses to the tune of 6.4 per cent of its 2006 GDP.

The study analysed the evidence on the economic impacts of inadequate sanitation, including costs associated with death and disease, accessing and treating water, and losses in education, productivity, time, and tourism.

"This report quantifies the economic losses to India, and shows that children and poor households bear the brunt of poor sanitation," says Christopher Juan Costain, WSP Regional Team Leader for South Asia in its report.

The report found that economic losses accruing from premature mortality and other health-related impacts of inadequate sanitation were the most poignant and could be put at an estimated Rs 1.75 trillion each year.

Poorer Indians, it says, bear the most significant brunt of the problem both in rural as well as urban centres.

It says the poorest 20 per cent of households living in urban areas bear the highest per capita economic impacts of inadequate sanitation at 75 per cent more than the national average and 60 per cent more than the urban average.

Poorest rural households too find themselves bearing per capita losses 8 per cent more than the average loss for households in rural areas.

While health-related impacts are by far the most significant, other factors that lead to losses are productive time lost to access sanitation facilities (Rs 487 billion), and drinking water-related impacts (Rs 191 billion).

The report also estimates that comprehensive interventions like use of toilets, hygiene promotion, improved access to safe water, and proper waste management can save India Rs 1321 per capita.

In the light of similar studies in east Asian countries, the report found that India fares poorly as compared to them.

While the annual per capita losses due to poor sanitation stood at USD 9.3 in Vietnam, US 16.8 in Philippines, USD 28.6 in Indonesia and USD 32.4 in Cambodia, the figure is as high as USD 48 in India, Costain said.

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