WASH critical to ending poverty

WaterAid has today called on Prime Minister David Cameron and the UN High Level Panel meeting in London to include universal safe water and sanitation in the replacements for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


31 Oct 2012 | UK

In its submission to the High Level Panel, WaterAid says: "Safe water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) services are basic human rights that underpin health, education and livelihoods. The problems associated with lack of access to WASH impact on virtually all aspects of human development, disproportionately affecting the life chances of women and girls."

The report includes shocking statistics from the World Health Organisation and Unicef:

  • While the water MDG was met in 2010, WHO/UNICEF report that over 780 million people still remain without access to safe water. 
  • According to WHO/UNICEF, if current trends continue, 2.4 billion people will still lack access to safe sanitation facilities in 2015. 
  • The United National Development Programme estimates that half the hospital beds in developing countries are filled with people suffering from diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

Margaret Batty, director of policy and campaigns at WaterAid, commented: "Access to water and sanitation is not only a fundamental human right but also a key building block of progress on child health, education and gender equality. Dealing with the lack of water and sanitation is the most effective way of tackling poverty and promoting economic development and growth." "Addressing exclusion and inequitable access to essential services such as water and sanitation should be one of the major concerns of all who are planning what will replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. What comes next must better reflect the central importance of water, sanitation and hygiene to human health, education, welfare and economic productivity."

WaterAid also recommends that the post-2015 goal framework should:

  • Include a goal on universal access to basic water and sanitation services as a fundamental human right. 
  • Specify a target date for achieving universal access to basic water and sanitation services by 2030. 
  • Ensure WASH targets and indicators focus explicitly on reducing inequalities by targeting poor and disadvantaged groups as a first priority.