FEATURE STORY

Inadequate Sanitation Costs India Equivalent of 6.4% of GDP

January 13, 2011

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Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A new study analyzed the adverse economic impacts of inadequate sanitation, including costs associated with death and disease, accessing and treating water, and losses in education, productivity, time, and tourism.
  • Premature deaths and other health-related impacts were found to cost the country US$38.5 billion, followed by productive time lost trying find a toilet or place to defecate.

Inadequate sanitation causes India considerable economic losses, equivalent to 6.4 per cent of India’s GDP in 2006 at US$53.8 billion (Rs.2.4 trillion), according to The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Sanitation in India, a new report from the Water and Sanitation Program.

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 (Rs.1.75 trillion, 71.6 percent of total impacts), followed by productive time lost to access sanitation facilities or sites for defecation at US$10.7 billion (Rs. 487 billion, 20 percent), and drinking water-related impacts at US$4.2 billion (Rs. 191 billion, 7.8 percent).

“For decades we have been aware of the significant health impacts of inadequate sanitation in India,” said Juan Costain, WSP Regional Team Leader for South Asia. “This report quantifies the economic losses to India, and shows that children and poor households bear the brunt of poor sanitation."

The full report, due out later this fiscal year, follows a WSP study released in 2007 on the economic impacts of sanitation in Southeast Asia, a part of the Global Economics of Sanitation Initiative.


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