The MDG targets to halve the number of people without access to sanitation by 2015.According to a study of 2011 by the Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP), current sanitation investment in Tanzania is less than 0.1 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
“The costs of poor sanitation are inequitably distributed with the highest economic burden falling disproportionately on the poorest. The average cost associated with poor sanitation constitutes a much greater proportion of a poor person’s income than that of a wealthier person,” reads part of the study titled Economic Impacts of Poor Sanitation in Africa.WSP further notes that the economic cost of poor sanitation is $5 (about Sh9,000) per person in Tanzania per year or one per cent of the national GDP.
The study further reveals that 26 million Tanzanians use unsanitary latrines or share them, while 5.4 million people have no latrines at all and defecate in the open. According to it, the poorest quintile is 41 times more likely to practise open defecation than the richest.
Open defecation costs Tanzania $46 million (about Sh73.6 billion); yet eliminating the practice would need about one million latrines to be built and used. Elaborating further on the cost of poor sanitation, the study has it that $14 million (about Sh21.9 billion) is lost each year in the country from the time spent finding a place to defecate.
“This cost is likely to be an underestimation as those without toilets, particularly women, will be obliged to find a private location for urination as well.”
In addition, poor sanitation is a contributing factor – through its impact on malnutrition rates – to other leading causes of child mortality including malaria and measles, the study explains.
Tanzania also loses $1.6 million each year due to productivity losses while sick or accessing healthcare. This includes the time absent from work or school because of suffering from diarrhoea, seeking treatment from a health clinic or hospital, and time spent caring for under-fives suffering from diarrhoea or other diseases attributed to sanitation.