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World Toilet Summit opens in India

by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) Oct 31, 2007
Delegates from dozens of nations gathered in India on Wednesday to open a World Toilet Summit aimed at finding low-cost methods to give billions of people access to sanitation.

The four-day meeting and seventh such summit brought 170 experts from more than 40 countries to swap ideas on improving basic sanitation to stem the spread of water-borne diseases that kill millions worldwide annually.

The founder of Indian toilet advocacy charity Sulabh International, Bindeshwar Pathak, opened the meeting by calling for a war footing in the effort to meet 2002 Millennium Development Goals.

The Millennium goals noted that "2.6 billion of the six billion people on the Earth today do not have access to safe and hygienic toilets, and the target fixed was that toilets should be provided to half of those people by 2015 and to all by 2025," Pathak told the delegates.

"To achieve the goals, what is essential is that technology needs to be urgently developed that is suitable and simple of implementation. Sewers or septic tanks are not the solutions."

Pathak, inspired by Indian freedom icon Mahatma Gandhi, began to build simple toilets in India in the 1970s and has developed a low-cost system that turns waste into water, fertiliser for crops and biogas to run generators.

The conference is being jointly organised with the World Toilet Organisation, which was founded in 2001 and aims to make sanitation a key global issue. It now has 55 member groups from 42 countries.

Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organisation, and former Indian president Abdul Kalam were among the opening speakers.

Pathak and Sim have been widely lauded by organisations such as the United Nations which has named 2008 as the "UN Year of Sanitation."

"Doctors around the world now say that better sanitation and public hygiene are key for improving public health," Pathak said.

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Europeans face mob anger over child 'abductions' in Chad
Abeche, Chad (AFP) Oct 30, 2007
Sixteen Europeans charged over the alleged abduction of 103 children faced abuse from angry protesters in eastern Chad Tuesday, as a row escalated in France over the government's failure to prevent their operation.

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