Friday, 14 December 2007

500 million people in India without toilets

It was recently reported that the Indian government has pledged $225 million to build toilets for the country's poor, and ensure everyone has toilets by 2012.

The implications of this are quite startling. Just think about it. 500,000,000 people do not have toilets at present. How much water, and how much paper will be needed. Scary? But why should we deny people access to facilities we all enjoy?

There are 1.2 billion people in India, and the standard of living is rising rapidly. Wildlife is being squeezed on all sides. We have to face the facts that land for wildlife is becoming an ever more restricted feature, and ever more valuable. It has to 'compete' on the open market -- and this means it can cost as much as £5000 an acre -- that's getting on for $25,000 a hectare. But that's the issue -- the more important the land is, the more expensive it will be. The more threatened it is, the higher the price. We have to bite the bullet and face these facts. We may be able to buy rainforest in South America at $100 an acre -- but it is remote and relatively inaccessible. So to any readers who are concerned about some of the most threatened species of all, you just have to be realistic, and know that £5000 or $10,000 may not buy a huge area, but it may be life or death to tigers and other threatened Asian wildlife.

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