Governments prioritise water, sanitation and hygiene as part of global effort to eradicate poverty

If endorsed in September, today’s agreement will be the first by all UN member states on ambitious targets to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).


2 Aug 2015

Government negotiators at the United Nations have today agreed to put universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at the heart of the new Sustainable Development Goals, aimed to eradicate extreme global poverty by 2030.

The agreement will now go for endorsement by Heads of State and Governments at a crucial summit in New York this September.

If endorsed, it will be the first agreement by all UN member states on ambitious targets to achieve universal access to WASH.

New energy for tackling extreme poverty

WaterAid has welcomed the conclusion of today's negotiations, which is expected to bring new energy to tackling extreme poverty, including the crisis of access to water and sanitation.

One in ten people globally live without access to basic water and one in three go without access to basic sanitation. Sanitation is one of the most off-track of the existing Millennium Development Goal targets.

Rewda, a mother of four, thinks her children’s health has improved since the opening of this community toilet in her neighborhood.
Rewda, 30, thinks her children's health has improved since the opening of this community toilet in her neighborhood in Oromia, Ethiopia.

However, while we welcome the new focus on water and sanitation, we remain concerned about the section on 'Follow up and Review'.

The document has limited clarity on how and when member states will report and monitor the agreed goals and targets at a national level.

It is also currently unclear when many countries will start their national implementation of the plan.

A commitment to transforming lives

Speaking after the negotiations, Barbara Frost, Chief Executive of WaterAid said:

"WaterAid and many others have been calling for a globally agreed Sustainable Development Goal dedicated to water and sanitation since 2012.

"Today UN negotiators have taken a significant step closer to achieving this, signalling a commitment to transform the lives of the one in ten people without safe water to drink and the one in three without basic sanitation.

"We welcome the agreement, the work of member state negotiators to get here and most significantly, the overarching commitment to end extreme poverty through sustainable development by 2030.

"In less than two months, Heads of State and Governments attend the September summit in New York and should give their final endorsement to this plan.

"We call on them to bring clear and implementable national commitments that show how they will make the ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality. Only by doing this can we end water, sanitation and hygiene poverty and ensure no one is left behind."

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