Seeks his support in sustaining hike in 12th Five Year Plan's allocation for drinking water and sanitation

Emphasising the medically proven links between malnutrition and sanitation, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his support in sustaining a hike in the 12th Five Year Plan's allocation for drinking water and sanitation.

In his letter, Mr. Ramesh has referenced a 2009 article from medical journal The Lancet, which shows that a key cause of child undernutrition is a sub-clinical disorder of the small intestine, called tropical enteropathy. The article suggests that this disorder has a higher effect in stunting a child's growth than an inadequate diet or diarrhoea.

The disorder is mainly caused when young children living in poor sanitary conditions — such as those in the 60 per cent of Indian households still practising open defecation — ingest large quantities of faecal bacteria. The Lancet article prescribes a simple solution: safe toilets and handwashing after use.

Noting that the 2012-13 budget includes a 40 per cent hike in the allocation for drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Ramesh asked Dr. Singh for his “personal support to sustain this increase throughout the 12th Five Year Plan and beyond.”

The Minister also emphasised the importance of closer coordination with the Ministries of Health and Women and Child Development.

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