Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Where to Start in Africa?

William Easterly had an insightful piece "What Bono doesn't say about Africa" in the LA Times on July 6 which included:

...the typical African is a long way from being a starving, AIDS-stricken refugee at the mercy of child soldiers. The reality is that many more Africans need latrines than need Western peacekeepers — but that doesn't play so well on TV.
Couldn't agree more. The opportunities for education, health, poverty alleviation and real economic development which accrue to an individual who has a place to go to the bathroom are worth contemplating. Also worth contemplating, considering the overall pessimism regarding the potential of sub-Saharan Africa to reach the Millennium Development Goals, is the contribution that the provision of safe drinking water and improved sanitation (viz. latrines) makes to each of the other Millennium Development Goals. Much research exists to quantify the positive impact that safe drinking water and improved sanitation have on the MDGs on maternal and child health, education, poverty alleviation, gender equality and environmental sustainability. Some of the most clear findings on this are here.

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