In Latin America 103 million people are lacking access to basic sanitation
The first Latin American Sanitation Conference – Latinosan 2007 – was inaugurated yesterday in Cali with more than 800 persons from 22 countries.
According to Alan Court, Director of the UNICEF Programme Division, in order to reach this Millennium Development Goal in Latin America between now and 2015, ten million persons a year that have not previously had a toilet must obtain this fundamental service. He added that this goal can only be reached with the political commitment of the ministers and delegations attending Latinosan 2007.
The experts’ presentations were centered on the drama of the 103 million Latin Americans that lack basic sanitation, which is translated into the lack of domestic sewerage services like toilets, washbasins, showers, etc.
Another key point on which the speakers agreed, for improving the quality of life for Latin Americans, was the need to guarantee the hygiene of the most vulnerable populations, like women, children and indigenous populations.
Federico Basañes, Chief of the Inter American Development Bank’s (IADB) Infrastructure and Environment Section, Water Sector, explained that washing hands is crucial for reducing deaths deriving from poverty.
According to Basañes’ presentation, diarrhea caused by infections transmitted from hand to mouth is the second cause of child mortality on the continent, after respiratory diseases.
The main auditorium of the new Centro de Eventos del Valle del Pacífico was filled to capacity early in the day with participants that had come to hear the presentations by national hosts and international experts in the area of sanitation.
The opening day’s agenda included a presentation of the sanitation situation in the different Latin American regions: the Andean Countries, the Southern Cone and Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Finally, the closing of the inauguration ceremony was carried out with the participation of Juan Lozano, Colombia’s Minister of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development, who was the first to commit to including the theme of sanitation as a priority for the fight against poverty on his country’s political agenda.
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