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But they are necessary. And in rural Rajasthan, they are not taken for granted.
These projects, and thousands like them, are saving millions of lives, and improving the quality of millions more. It is so simple, yet still, at current rates, the world will miss the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation by 1 billion people, unless we act.
This week, ahead of the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank, finance, infrastructure and water ministers will meet in Washington. The Bank is the largest single source of funding for water and sanitation, with $4.3 billion in lending devoted to this area in 2009. In addition, the World Bank-administered Water and Sanitation Program, to which the United States is an important donor, provided $30 million in free technical assistance to 25 countries to scale up successful sanitation and water projects.
The first order of business facing ministers gathered for the meetings must be the basic, simple, inexpensive, and obvious needs of poor people. Low cost sanitation interventions not only offer basic human dignity, they can reduce disease, malnutrition and death. If we can summon the will to make this sanitation effort a global priority by allocating the needed resources, we can save millions of lives.
Let the toilet lineup celebration in Janadesar be a global wakeup call. It is within our grasp to deliver safe water and sanitation to every person on the planet in just 10 years. If we do it, we can have toilet celebrations around the world, and finally put this embarrassing and deadly subject behind us.
Jamal Saghir is Director of Water, Energy and Transport programs at the World Bank Group.