Environment

Investment in water infrastructure crucial as 2.2 billion people lack assess to safe water and sanitation globally, UNICEF

Today, 2.2 billion people have no access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities across the world despite global efforts to promote universal access to safe water. According to a report by World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, 3 in 10 people worldwide lack access to safe, ready, and available water at home, and 6 in 10 lack safely managed sanitation facilities.

The Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2017 Update and Sustainable Development Goal Baselines presented a global assessment of safely managed drinking water and sanitation services. In the assessment report, it was found that too many people still lack access particularly the poor and vulnerable groups in rural and informal settlement areas.

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said, “Safe water, sanitation and hygiene at home should not be a privilege of only those who are rich or live in urban areas. These are some of the most basic requirements for human health, and all countries have a responsibility to ensure that everyone can access them.”

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Since 2000, billions of people across the world have gained access to basic drinking water and sanitation, though these services do not necessarily be safe. Many social facilities- homes, schools, and health facilities have no soap and handwashing facilities putting people at risk for diseases, especially young children. As a result, 361,000 children under the age of 5 years die due to diarrhea.

Global efforts are being put in place to reduce inequalities although, in more than 90 countries, progress towards sanitation is too slow, derailing achievement of universal coverage by 2030. Lack of data on the quality of water and sanitation, conflict and unrest; and big gaps in service between the urban and rural areas are a major cause for global inequality in water service provision.

The world adopted new Sustainable Development Goals to significantly decrease inequalities around the world and promote the achievement of universal access to basic services by 2030. The goals aim at achieving universal and equitable access to safe water and sanitation for all, ensure gender equality and equitable access to by the poor and vulnerable groups, and contributing data on basic water, sanitation and hygiene for all. To ensure the realization of this goal, the nation’s governments, community groups, Non-governmental organizations, and all relevant stakeholders must strive to invest in infrastructure services. Policy development and adequate budgetary allocation will speed up the process.

“Safe water, effective sanitation, and hygiene are critical to the health of everyone and every community-thus essential to building stronger, healthier, and more equitable societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Antony Lake. “As we improve these services in the most disadvantaged communities and for the most disadvantaged children today, we give them a fairer chance at a better tomorrow.”  

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