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Sanitation in Brazil is still unsatisfactory

Veadeiros Plateau, in Goiás state

March 22nd is the World Water Day. Regarding this matter, Brazil has a challenge: although having great water sources, the country lacks the control of it. It is not only about having water, but having quality water. UN estimates that 3,900 children die everyday because of diseases related to dirty water. Altogether, 1.8 million people die every year of diarrhea and other diseases like cholera. And around 2.6 million people do not have access to sanitation.

In Brazil, the situation falls short. Census of 2012, made by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE in Portuguese) pointed out that 15.1% of the Brazilian children ranging from 0 to 4 years live in areas in which the sewage runs outdoors. The North Region is the worst case: 32.2% of houses have sewage running in the surroundings. In Northeast, 26.3%.

Among the capitals with more than 1 million inhabitants, Belém was unfortunately the winner: 44.5% of housing do not have sewage. Following Belém, São Luís with 33.9% and Manaus with 20.2%. On the other side, Goiânia and Belo Horizonte portray as the cities with best sanitation infrastructure.

It is not enough to collect sewage. Treating is also needed. From 1995 to 2005, the percentage of treated sewage, compared to the collected one, grew from 8.7% to 61.6%. However, the high percentage can be deceiving, according to IBGE, because it regards the percentage of treated sewage compared to the collected sewage.Therefore, the high value can be a consequence of a low sewage collection.

Besides not collecting and treating the sewage, Brazil also does not control the quality of water. Out of 5,565 Brazilian municipalities, 2,659 (47.8%) did not control quality of water in 2011. Only 28% (1,569) had a municipal policy of sanitation. Such data is part of a Research on Basic Municipal Information of 2011, by IBGE. Sanitation comprehends access to water supply system, access to sanitation, treated sewage, and collection and disposal of garbage.

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