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Published on: 16/02/2011

Inadequate sanitation costs India US$ 53.8 billion, which is equivalent to 6.4 per cent of India’s GDP in 2006, according to a new report [1] from the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).

The study analyzed the evidence on the adverse economic impacts of inadequate sanitation, which include costs associated with death and disease, accessing and treating water, and losses in education, productivity, time, and tourism. The findings are based on 2006 figures, although a similar magnitude of losses is likely in later years.

The report indicates that premature mortality and other health-related impacts of inadequate sanitation, were the most costly at US$ 38.5 billion, 71.6 percent of total impacts, followed by productive time lost to access sanitation facilities or sites for defecation at US$ 10.7 billion, 20 percent, and drinking water-related impacts at US$ 4.2 billion, 7.8 per cent.

“The cost is more than I expected,” UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene chief Clarissa Brocklehurst said in an interview with news site Bloomberg. “Yet, if you know the scale of open defecation in India, it’s not all that surprising.”

[1] WSP (2010). The economic impacts of sanitation in India : inadequate sanitation costs India Rs. 2.4 trillion (US$53.8 billion). New Delhi, India, Water and Sanitation Program, World Bank. 8 p. : 5 fig. Download report

Related web site: WSP – Economic Impacts of Sanitation

Source: WSP, 20 Dec 2010 ; Jason Gale, Bloomberg, 21 Dec 2010

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