Warning that a global water and sanitation crisis was looming, development experts and Government and civil society representatives called for accelerated action on water-management issues in general, and sanitation in particular, as the Commission on Sustainable Development devoted a second full day to reviewing water and sanitation decisions taken at its thirteenth session.

Also today, Commission Chairperson Francis Nhema of Zimbabwe introduced part I of his summary of the Commission’s work during the sixteenth session, which runs through Friday. The summary outlines the 53-member body’s discussion thus far on its thematic issues — agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification, and Africa –- and highlights what delegations cited as obstacles and constraints to sustainable development, as well as lessons learned and best practices to overcome those challenges. He stressed that the summary was not a consensus document, but merely a reflection of the discussions under way.

During two half-day interactive panels, many speakers underscored the need for more integrated and better funded water-management policies to extend basic water services and meet the Millennium Development Goals on safe drinking water, which seemed within reach, and sanitation, which did not. In their estimation, current efforts to improve sanitation were in the toilet. One expert said there seemed to be a “blind spot” about the integral role of sanitation in reducing poverty and achieving all the other Millennium Goals. While major immunization programmes had led to significant success in meeting the Millennium targets on child mortality, an immunized child could still die from diarrhoea due to poor sanitation conditions and unsafe hygiene practices.

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