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East Asia Pacific Region Urban Sanitation Review: Actions Needed

View infographic: The High Cost of Sanitation in East Asia Pacific

January 20, 2014

  • East Asia Pacific Region Urban Sanitation Review: Actions Needed looks at how countries in the region – and particularly Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam – can expand and improve urban sanitation services in an inclusive and sustainable way.
  • About 2.5 billion people worldwide lack adequate sanitation – that’s one third of the global population – and 660 million of them live in East Asia and the Pacific. Inadequate sanitation takes a tremendous toll on the quality of peoples’ lives, the environment, and the economy. 
  • Without effective urban sanitation, there is a high risk of epidemic diseases such as cholera, as well as the chronic effects of poor health from diarrhea and even death. Inadequate sanitation pollutes water supplies, rendering them unsuitable for drinking, irrigation, and other purposes. 
  • The economic impact of inadequate sanitation is substantial. Each year, poor quality sanitation costs Vietnam the equivalent of 1.3 percent of GDP, the Philippines 1.5 percent of GDP, and Indonesia 2.3 percent of GDP.
  • To sustain economic growth, East Asia’s cities need to address significant gaps in their sanitation services. Substantial financing is needed to develop infrastructure and provide sustainable services for urban sanitation. Investment levels of at least US$250 per person are needed per year for the next 15 years. 
  • Returns on sanitation investments are also high. Worldwide, every US dollar invested in sanitation yields $5.50 in return in terms of economic benefit. In East Asia, this rate of return is even higher, with every US dollar spent yielding $8 in return, according to the World Health Organization.