Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Sanitation coverage and ‘Freedom’ in Africa

Further to my blog of 15 June, I’ve been looking at sanitation coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa, using the JMP’s A Snapshot of Sanitation in Africa, and ‘freedom’ as defined by Freedom House, both for the year 2006 (the latest for which sanitation coverage is available).

Freedom House defines:
a Free country as one where there is broad scope for open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life, and independent media;
a Partly Free country as one in which there is limited respect for political rights and civil liberties. Partly Free states frequently suffer from endemic corruption, weak rule of law, and ethnic or religious strife, and they often feature a single political party that enjoys dominance despite a façade of limited pluralism; and
a Not Free country as one where basic political rights are absent, and basic civil liberties are widely and systematically denied.

The freedom status of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding those for which sanitation coverage is not available) is given in Freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa 2007 (which gives the info. for 2006), as follows:

Free’: Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, São Tome & Príncipe, Senegal, South Africa

Partly Free’: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

Not Free’: Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Zimbabwe

For each country the total population was multiplied by the fraction of the total population with access to ‘improved’ sanitation to give the total number of people in the country with access to improved sanitation. These numbers were then totalled for the countries in each of the above three groups and then divided by the total population in each group to give the percentage access to improved sanitation by freedom status. The results are:

Free countries: 41% with access to improved sanitation
Partly Free countries: 27%
Not Free countries: 31%

So, in Sub-Saharan Africa overall access to improved sanitation in Free countries is better than in Partly Free and Not Free countries − democracy is somewhat better for sanitation!

However, North Africa is completely different:

Egypt: Not Free, but 66% with improved sanitation
Libya: Not Free, 97%
Tunisia: Not Free, 85%
Algeria: Not Free, 94%
Morocco: Partly free, 72%

Is this relatively high sanitation coverage in North Africa due to ‘Islamic cleanliness’ or governments doing something to make their mainly unfree citizens ‘happier’? Or both (any shade of ‘bread and circuses’)?

And what about the other regions of the developing world?