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Bangladesh makes progress in sanitation coverage, UNICEF report says

Bangladesh makes progress in sanitation coverage, UNICEF report says

Bangladesh has managed to more than double its household sanitary coverage in the past three years, a UNICEF report on water and sanitation said Wednesday.
Usage of hygienic latrines in the impoverished nation of 144 million people rose to nearly 84 percent in 2006, from a mere 33 percent in 2003 when the government launched a campaign targeting full sanitation coverage by 2010, the report said citing official data.
Hygienic latrines are toilets with water and flushing facilities, usually built within the compound of a family's home. Before, most people defecated in nearby rivers, ponds, fields or other open spaces _ causing environmental pollution and often spreading germs.
"We have come a long way in improving water and sanitation, and children and women are the best beneficiaries of this progress," Abdul Bari, chief engineer of the government's Department of Public Health Engineering, said in a news statement.
But people's access to safe drinking water _ which had reached 97 percent in the 1980s _ was now adjusted to 74 percent, following the discovery of arsenic contamination of underground water tables in the 1990s.
"My hope is that Bangladesh will follow its success in sanitation by next targeting 100 percent safe water coverage," Louis-George Arsenault, representative of the U.N. children's agency, said while releasing the report Wednesday in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
Unsafe water and lack of sanitation can lead to waterborne diseases like diarrhea in children, which can effect school attendance and even lead to death.
The World Health Organization estimates that between 28 million and 35 million Bangladeshis drink water with high levels of arsenic. Arsenic poisoning can cause skin sores, organ damage or cancers leading to death.