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WASHINGTON: India has topped the list of top ten nations that lacks sanitary facilities. In an initiative to bring awareness to the need for adequate sanitary facilities, the "big squat" was held worldwide to coincide with the 10th annual World Toilet Day.
Here's a list of the world's worst nations in terms of people lacking access to sanitary facilities, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
1. India: 638 million The world's second-most populous nation after China, India has the world's largest number of people going outdoors. Nearly 640 million Indians, or 54 percent of the 1.1 billion population lack access to toilets or other sanitation facilities. In some states, the problem was so bad that village women started a slogan: "No toilet, no bride."
2. Indonesia: 58 million About 58 million Indonesians, 26 percent of its population, don't use toilets. Southern Asia, home to 64 percent of the world's population that still uses the bathroom in the open, has seen the practice decrease the most - from 66 percent in 1990 to 44 percent in 2008.
3. China: 50 million China has 50 million citizens going in the open. That's only 4 percent of its 1.3 billion population. More than 267 million Chinese have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990, according to the WHO.
As the Los Angeles Times recently found, China's surge in wealth is also causing a spike in toilet purchases. Nearly 19 million toilets are sold in China annually - double the number sold in America.
And six percent of the urban population - compared to 2 percent of the rural population - go in the open, according the WHO's 2010 update on sanitation.
4. Ethiopia: 49 million Seven in 10 people in Ethiopia's rural areas don't use indoor toilets. The landlocked nation on the Horn of Africa has seen minimal progress over the past two decades in increasing sanitation access, with only 12 percent of the population gaining improved services.
5. Pakistan: 48 million Of Pakistan's 177 million people, about 48 million go where they please. But Pakistan has seen incredible gains over the past two decades, with 47 million people no longer defecating in the open, according to the WHO's 2010 update on progress on sanitation and drinking water.
However, it saw setbacks recently with the massive flooding that displaced millions of people and worsened already poor sanitation conditions, as the Monitor reported.
6. Nigeria: 33 million Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria, also has the world's 6th highest number of citizens going to the bathroom outside. Of 151 million people living in Nigeria, 33 million do it in the open. Still, more than 12 million people there have gained access to sanitation facilities over the past two decades.
7. Sudan: 17 million More than 17 million people, or 41 percent of the population, in the northern African nation of Sudan use the outdoors as their bathrooms.
8. Nepal: 15 million The Himalayan nation wedged between India and China has low use of sanitation facilities, with some 52 percent of the 29 million population lacking access to indoor plumbing. Still, 31 percent of the population - or 6.8 million people - have seen improved sanitation facilities over the past two decades.
9. Brazil: 13 million About 13 million Brazilians go to the bathroom in the open, according to the WHO, although this is only about 7 percent of the nation's population of 192 million people.
Over the past two decades, about 80 percent of the population saw an improvement in sanitation facilities, allowing more than 50 million people to gain access to better facilities. Across Latin America and the Caribbean, the percentage of the regional population openly defecating dropped from 17 percent in 1990 to 6 percent in 2008.
10. Niger: 12 million Four in 5 people in Niger go in the open, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That's about 12 million people, or 79 percent of the 14.7 million population in the north-central African nation.
It's a slight improvement from the 84 percent of the population who did their business in the open in 1990, according to the WHO's 2010 update on progress on improving sanitation.
UNITED NATIONS: Highlighting its commitment to end practise of open defecation in the country, India has said that lack of access to basic sanitation can be both a "cause and effect" of poverty as it expressed concern over the Millenium Development Goals target on the sanitation issue.
"Access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation facilities are not only central to health and sustainable development, they are central to eradication of poverty as well," India's Permanent Representative to the UN AmbassadorAsoke Mukerji said yesterday at a panel discussion on 'Open Defecation and the Challenges for Women and Girls'.
The theme of this year's 'World Toilet Day' is 'Open Defecation and the Challenges for Women and Girls', drawing attention to the special problems they face.
On the occasion, he said despite commendable progress made under the MDGs, it is a matter of "serious concern" that the MDG target on sanitation remains the most off-track.
The MDGs were developed out of commitments set forth in the Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000. There are eight goals with 21 targets with a deadline of 2015 and sanitation is among them.
Over two billion people still live without improved sanitation and over one billion practise open defecation.
According to latest estimates by the UN, India has the highest number of people practising open defecation at 597 million or 47 per cent of the national population which is more than in any other country in the world.
Mukerji said access to sanitation has a significant impact on public health and in safeguarding income of the poor, ultimately contributing to the national economy.
"More importantly though, lack of access to sanitation disproportionately impacts women and girls. It affects not only their socio-economic up-liftment but even their physical safety and security," he said.
"We are conscious that India will have a special role to play in the achievement of these targets," the Ambassador said as he highlighted the mass movement on sanitation 'Clean India Mission' undertaken by the Modi government that envisages provision of toilets in every school in India within one year and focused effort for ending practise of open defecation.
"The objective of this massive exercise is to deliver a Clean India by 2019, which happens to be the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. This, we believe, would be a fitting tribute to the Mahatma," he said.