More mobile phones than toilets

“The number of mobile subscriptions in the world is expected to pass five billion this year [2010], according to the International Telecommunication Union, an intergovernmental organization. That would mean more human beings today have access to a cellphone than the United Nations says have access to a clean toilet”.

While the author’s intention of this quote is to show how widespread and popular mobile or cellphones have become in developing countries in a relatively short period, it will also raise the question why the sanitation sector  has been unable to emulate this success.

Read the full article: Anand Giridharadas, New York Times, 08 Apr 2010

2 responses to “More mobile phones than toilets

  1. Pingback: Plus de téléphones portables que de toilettes - Un article de Le Blog d’Albert Amgar

  2. Why has the sanitation sector in the developing world been unable to emulate the success of the mobile phone?

    Compare what drives women and men to get and use the mobile phone daily with sanitation.
    My answer to this question based on my nearly 30 years of newsletter writing and field missions is:

    – a mobile phone is attractive and sexy;
    – it is a very personal and handy tool,
    – it brings me immediate results, such as essential family info, fun, and money;
    – “I want what all my neighbours have”;
    – having my own mobile phone makes me mainstream, is good for my image;
    – it is great value for money;
    – there is a an enormous market with great choice of brands;
    – I want to carry it always on me.

    Sanitation has usually none of these positive drivers, at least for most men. An increasing number of women mention some of these drivers as reason why they have improved sanitation at their house.

    So, which donor is willing to invest in making sanitation more attractive, sexier and wanted?

    Dick de Jong
    Editor Source Water ad Sanitation news and feature service
    IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

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