UNICEF/WHO: Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water – 2015 update and MDG assessment.

Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water – 2015 update and MDG assessment. UNICEF/WHO.

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 30 June 2015 – Lack of progress on sanitation threatens to undermine the child survival and health benefits from gains in access to safe drinking water, warn WHO and UNICEF in a report tracking access to drinking water and sanitation against the Millennium Development Goals. JMP-Update-report-2015_English

The Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessment, says worldwide, 1 in 3 people, or 2.4 billion, are still without sanitation facilities – including 946 million people who defecate in the open. “What the data really show is the need to focus on inequalities as the only way to achieve sustainable progress,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene programmes.

“The global model so far has been that the wealthiest move ahead first, and only when they have access do the poorest start catching up. If we are to reach universal access to sanitation by 2030, we need to ensure the poorest start making progress right away.”

Access to improved drinking water sources has been a major achievement for countries and the international community. With some 2.6 billion people having gained access since 1990, 91 per cent of the global population now have improved drinking water – and the number is still growing. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 427 million people have gained access – an average of 47,000 people per day every day for 25 years. The child survival gains have been substantial. Today, fewer than 1,000 children under five die each day from diarrhoea caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene, compared to over 2,000 15 years ago.

On the other hand, the progress on sanitation has been hampered by inadequate investments in behaviour change campaigns, lack of affordable products for the poor, and social norms which accept or even encourage open defecation. Although some 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990, the world has missed the MDG target by nearly 700 million people. Today, only 68 per cent of the world’s population uses an improved sanitation facility – 9 percentage points below the MDG target of 77 per cent.

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