Report: India Has More Cell Phones than Toilets


india-cell-phoneIndia’s mobile subscribers totalled 563.73 million at the last count, enough to serve nearly half of the country’s 1.2 billion population. But just 366 million people – around a third of the population – had access to proper sanitation in 2008, said the study published by the United Nations University, a UN think-tank.

“It is a tragic irony to think in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones,” so many people “cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet,” said Zafar Adeel, the UN University director.

Adeel heads the UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health, based in the Canadian city of Hamilton, which prepared the report.

Worldwide, an estimated $358 billion  is needed between now and 2015 to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people with inadequate sanitation from 2000 levels.

Proper sanitation “could do more to save lives, especially those of young people, improve health and help pull India and other countries in similar circumstances out of poverty than any alternative investment,” Mr Adeel said.

Poor sanitation is a major contributor to water-borne diseases, which in the past three years alone killed an estimated 4.5 million children under the age of five worldwide, according to the study.

The report gave a rough cost of $300 to build a toilet, including labour, materials and advice.

The world could expect a return of up to $34 for every dollar spent on sanitation through improved productivity and reduced poverty and health costs, said Adeel.

He said improving sanitation was “an economic and humanitarian opportunity of historic proportions.”

{Telegraph-UK/Noam Newscenter}


  1. Have none of the first four contributors – including “The Rov”, whose scatological comment had to be censored – not think just a little harder about the imbalance there is in the world?

    We in America, Europe, Australasia and the rest of the so-called “first world” take all the facilities we have for granted and never give our basic facilities a second thought.

    Meanwhile, in India there are 1.8 BILLION men, women and kinder, the vast majority of whom struggle each day to find enough food to stay alive.

    It is true that India, in some respects, is an advanced country. It is a member of the so-called “Nuclear Club”, it has the ability to launch its own communications satellites, and its computer-related industries are second to none.

    But eighty (80) per cent of the Indian population lives in remote villages. Water has to be pumped from wells. In some villages the water still has to be hauled up in buckets on the end of a rope. Sixty per cent of villages still lack electricity. For many Indian villagers the main source of heating fuel is still the biblical dried animal dung.

    However, the country’s government has invested billions of dollars in its cell phone network. This offers relatively cheap communications to any Indian man or woman who can pay a few dollars equivalent for a cheap cell phone with none of the gadgets or add-ons that are available in the West.

    Given all this, the lack of water closets or toilets is unfortunately rather lower on India’s national list of priorities than it would be in a western country. Top of the list is education – just as it is for Klal Yisroel – and feeding the growing population.

    The rest, im yirtzeh HaShem, will come in good time.

    So, my dear friends, please do not be so quick to poke fun and to ridicule another country that is doing all it can to improve the lives of its citizens!

  2. I know I have more cell phones in my house than toilets! (I also know that each person in my family owns a cell phone!)