In spite of being the world’s seven largest economy, in 2011, Brazil ranked 112th among 200 countries according to sanitation levels, shows a survey released on Wednesday (Mar. 19) during a forum entitled “Water: Strategic Management in the Business Sector”, by Treat Brazil Institute and the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The study aims to show the benefits to be gained by future investments in sanitation and how they would improve Brazilians’ living standards and boost the country’s economy.
According to the survey, the Sanitation Development Index reached 0.589 – lower than its counterpart not only in rich countries in North America and Europe, but also some nations in North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, where the average income is lower than it is in Brazil. The study reports 0.707 for Ecuador, 0.686 for Chile, and 0.667 for Argentina. The index is calculated based on the Human Development Index, released by the United Nations Development Programme.
Over the last decade, access to housing and basic sanitation increased 4.1%, which is lower than the historical average, 5.6%. In 2010, 31.5 million houses were assisted by the sewage network. The country’s north region reports the largest growth, in spite of having the country’s poorest conditions: 4.4 million houses still remain outside the coverage of the sewage system. Tocantis was the only Brazilian state to increase sanitation levels by almost 21%.
In the Northeast, as many as 13.5 million households had no access to sanitation, and there was no treated water in over 6 million homes. The largest number of unassisted dwellings was seen in the state of Bahia: 3.3 million.
In the South, there were no sanitation service for over 6.4 million homes. The states reporting the largest number of unassisted homes were Rio Grande do Sul (2.8 million) and Santa Catarina (1.9 million). However, in the Southeast, the region with the best rates, there are still 8.2 million households with no access to the sanitation network.
The experts responsible for the survey warn that the sanitation issue has taken its toll on health indicators. They note that in 2011 the child mortality rate in Brazil reached 12.9 deaths for every 1.000 live births, surpassing that of Cuba (4.9%), Chile (7.8%) and Costa Rica (8.6%).
The survey further reveals that other direct effect of poor sewage services is seen in the low life expectancy of the population in 2011: 73.3 years old – lower than the Latin American average: 74.4 years old. In Argentina, it stood at 75.8 years old, and 79.3 years old in Chile.
The study also points out that, if the coverage of sanitation services was broad enough, hospital stays due to gastrointestinal infections, which, according to data from the Health Ministry, amount to 340 thousand Brazilian citizens, would be reduced to 266 thousand. Apart from health improvements, this would drive spending down, as hospital stays would cost $22.2 million in 2013. According to the figures in the survey, the universalization of sewage collection services would make the economy incur expenses totaling around $11.5 million per year.
Another benefit mentioned in the study is an expansion of tourism activities, through the creation of nearly 500 jobs and a yearly income of $3.09 billion in salaries, as well as an increase in the country’s gross domestic product of around $5.14 billion.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira
Fonte: Brazil 112th place on sanitation ranking