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01/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Access To Basic Sanitation A Luxury In East Africa

NAIROBI, Dec 19 (IPS) - In 1925, Mahatma Gandhi remarked that "Sanitation is more important than political independence." More than 80 years later, access to basic sanitation remains out of reach for 546 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.

In East Africa, not one country is on track to meet Millennium Development Goal Seven, which aims to reduce by half the number of people without access to clean drinking water and decent sanitation by 2015.

Despite governments in the region being signatories to several declarations on improving sanitation, many East African households still lack access to flush toilets or pit latrines. Open defecation is widespread, and 'flying toilets', where people defecate in plastic bags and throw them away at night are the rule rather than the exception in many informal settlements.

Read more on Inter Press Service