Heads of State and UN Secretary General urge action on sanitation and water

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, together with the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, today [22 September 2010] called for immediate action on sanitation – the most off-track Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target in sub-Saharan Africa.

The call came on the final day of the MDG Summit, [at a side event Addressing the Global Water and Sanitation Challenge: The Key to the MDGs, organized by South Korea, Liberia, Senegal, Tajikistan and USA].

Also pledging their support at the event were many high-level figures including former UN General Assembly President and current WaterAid in Sweden Chair, Jan Eliasson, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake  [Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and UNSGAB Chair His Royal Highness the Prince of the Netherlands].

Ambassador Eliasson, who is a member of the Secretary General’s MDG Advocacy Group said: “I can think of nothing that is more important to the health and well-being of the world’s poorest people and yet is so off-track. This event isn’t about lamenting another crisis but rather harnessing the potential of sanitation and water to drive efforts to alleviate world poverty.”

The sanitation crisis extends beyond Africa; today, the UN estimates 2.6 billion people do not have access to even a basic toilet.

The consequences of not meeting the sanitation target are shocking. Diarrhoea, caused by a lack of sanitation and clean water, is the biggest killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa, responsible for the deaths of more 4,000 children a day, more than AIDS, malaria and TB combined. And it doesn’t stop there: education, nutrition and economic prosperity are all linked to sanitation.

In a recent article, The orphan development goal, President Johnson-Sirleaf wrote: “We cannot wait another ten years. Let us act now to ensure that citizens everywhere can live healthy and dignified lives, full of the promise and potential that is their right.”

Ambassador Eliasson concluded: “If development is to become truly sustainable, we must move forward on all MDGs. The strength of a chain is decided by the strength of its weakest link – that means action on sanitation now.” [Read his column The Neglected Development Goal, Huffington Post, 21 Sep 2010]

Read Ban Ki-moon’s statement at the water and sanitation MDG side event.

Read more about the Summit on WaterAid Campaigns blog

Source: WaterAid, 22 Sep 2010

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