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650 million lack access to clean water: Report

Around the world, more than 650 million people do not have access to clean water, while 2.3 billion people lack access to a safe, private restroom, according to research from international charity WaterAid published today.

The report, entitled "The State of the World's Toilets 2015", looks at sanitary conditions around the world to raise awareness. It has been released on World Toilet Day to raise awareness of poor sanitation, which is closely linked to the transmission of diseases: the report claims 400,000 newborn babies in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia died in 2013 from infections related to unhygienic environments.

According to the report, South Sudan is the worst place in the world to find a toilet: 93 per cent of its population do not have access to a household toilet. All of the 10 worst places are in Africa.


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To help give people some perspective of the problem, WaterAid compiled a list of the "longest queues" for toilets. More than 774 million people in India do not have access to a private toilet; if you pushed all those waiting to use a toilet into a single queue, it could stretch from the Earth and past the moon, and would almost 6,000 years to work through.

WaterAid's chief executive, Barbara Frost, argues that developed nations need to help in order to improve sanitation.

"The state of the world toilets in countries such as India and South Sudan will not improve without a dramatic and long-term increase in both political will and financing for water, sanitation and hygiene work by both their own national governments and donor countries like the U.K.," she told CNBC in an email statement.

"National governments must ensure urgently that schools, healthcare facilities and birthing centers all have safe toilets, clean running water and somewhere for people to wash their hands with soap."

Improving sanitation would not just safe lives, there are important economic benefits to improved hygiene

"Safe toilets are vital in keeping communities healthy but are also an essential building block for development," explained Frost. "If you build toilets and everyone uses them then sick days decrease, the burden on health system lessens and for every $1 spent on toilets, the economy is boosted by at least $3."

Developed countries are also included in the report. Russia has the worst access to toilets: 27.8 percent of the population, more than 39 million people, are without a safe, private toilet. Even in the U.S., there are 36,100 people without access to a toilet.

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