Tag Archives: MDGs

Al Jazeera’s Inside Story discusses new WHO/UNICEF report on water and sanitation MDGs


The UN announced that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to cut the number of people who do not have access to safe drinking water by half, has been met five years before the 2015 deadline. In contrast, the sanitation MDG target will not be met.

The report issued by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) says that between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources such as piped supplies and protected wells.

Does this really show an early success for the MDG? How reliable is the UN report on safe drinking water?

Joining presenter Adrian Finighan on Inside Story are guests: Patrick Moriarty, in charge of the International Programme for the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, a Netherlands-based NGO; Joakim Harlin, a senior water resources advisor at the UNDP; and Muhammad Jahangir, the founder of Better Tomorrow, an NGO focusing on water sanitation.

More information:

Advances in sanitation bypassing the poor and rural communities

The UN’s latest Millennium Development Goals Report notes that progress in sanitation has largely bypassed the poor while rural populations remain disadvantaged.

An analysis of trends over the period 1995-2008 for three countries in Southern Asia shows that improvements in sanitation disproportionately benefited the better off, while sanitation coverage for the poorest 40 per cent of households hardly increased. Although gaps in sanitation coverage between urban and rural areas are narrowing, rural populations remain at a distinct disadvantage in a number of regions.

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Rwanda: Nation Targets 100 Percent Sanitation Coverage By 2012

Apr 20, 2011 – The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Marie Claire Mukasine, yesterday announced that there would be 100 percent sanitation coverage by 2012, and stressed on accelerating strategies to achieve this target.

She made the remarks while addressing a preparatory meeting of the forthcoming third African Sanitation and Hygiene conference (AfricaSan 3), slated for July in Kigali.

Mukasine added that the overall objective is to get Africa on track to meet the sanitation Millenium Development Goal; the focus has to be on building and sustaining momentum through improved action plans and renewed commitments.

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SuSanA engagement in the five year drive for sustainable sanitation

Concept note: SuSanA engagement in the five year drive for sustainable sanitation

Link to Concept Note

As a follow-up to International Year of Sanitation (2008) and in the effort to attain sanitation and hygiene Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets, Sustainable Sanitation 5 Year Drive to 2015 (5YD) was conceptualized by the United Nation Secretariat Advisory Board (UNSGAB) members. The idea being that, ‘the 5YD is an advocacy vehicle to keep sanitation high on the political agenda, promote national coordination, improve sanitation monitoring while supporting sustainable sanitation solutions – all in all in an effort to meet the sanitation target. The Drive aims to invigorate, galvanize and re-focus international, regional and national activities in the field of sanitation and maintain the momentum through raising awareness and facilitating action. The concept was drafted based on a recommendation made in The UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS) report of 2010.

The Five Year Drive was officially adopted by Resolution A/RES/65/153 of the UN General Assembly on December 20, 2010 and now serves as a tool for engaging countries as well as non-state stakeholders for improving access to sanitation worldwide.

The official launch of 5YD will take place in the presence of the UN Secretary General during the UNSGAB meeting to be held from 21-23 June 2011 in New York City. In addition regional launches are planned at the 4th South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN IV) in April 2011 and at the 3rd African Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene (AfricaSan3) in July 2011.

Read the full text of UN Resolution 65/153

Proper sanitation key to global health: WaterAid Australia CEO interviewed on Radio Australia

Adam Laidlaw

Adam Laidlaw. Photo: WaterAid

“The Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health will not succeed, in my view, without safe sanitation embedded in its implementation”, says WaterAid Australia CEO Adam Laidlaw in an interview on Radio Australia. The Global Strategy, Laidlaw was referring to, was launched on 22 September 2010 by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN global summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “What we didn’t hear from this summit”, says Laidlaw, “was that sanitation underpins the success of a whole range of MDGs”.

Listen to the complete radio interview (Radio Australia, 24 Sep 2010).

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].

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Burkina Faso: race to achieve goals on sanitation

The government of Burkina Faso has embarked on the construction of 55,000 latrines each year to improve access to proper sanitation for the population from the present 10 percent to 54 percent by 2015.

According to the authorities, the average rate of access to sanitation in urban areas is currently 20 percent, while in rural areas, it is as low as one percent in some areas.

Burkina Faso will invest 24 million dollars in each of the next five years. The government, which now spends $8 million a year thanks to support from donors, plans to double, even triple its own annual contribution of around $2 million from the national budget.

“When you look at all sectors, things are moving. But on sanitation, a domain so fundamental to quality of life, we can see that we are very far behind,” Laurent Sédogo, Burkinabé minister for agriculture, water and fisheries resources told IPS.

“To put it plainly, out of every 1,000 people, only 100 have adequate (sanitation) infrastructure. The other 900 must take to the bush and, to protect their modesty, many wait until the dead of night because of the loss of vegetation,” Sédogo said.

Amélie Ouédraogo, a resident of the Tanghin neighbourhood of the Burkinabé capital Ouagadougou, said that construction of latrines will permit the dead to regain their peace. “Even the cemeteries are not safe when night falls. We see people headed there, but we cannot prevent them from relieving themselves.”

According to Ouédraogo, the situation is even more dire during the rainy season, because the water which flows through the streets, a favourite playground for children, is polluted. “We have cases of diarrhoea, but people refuse to make the link between these illnesses and their causes.”

Mahamoudou Sana, a merchant in one of Ouaga’s livestock markets said, “Once we have latrines, both we and our customers can make ablutions and wash ourselves before prayers. Previously, we had to hide ourselves in tall bush to relieve ourselves during the day.”

The ministry of health underlines that the absence of toilets leads to illness, notably diarrhoea, which is responsible for 58 percent of child deaths in Burkina.

According to non-governmental organisation WaterAid, some 2,000 children die every day. The NGO adds that simply using toilets could reduce the incidence of diarrhoea by 40 percent; clean toilets, combined with safe drinking water and good hygiene, cases of diarrhoea could be reduced by 90 percent.

WaterAid is worried that 90 percent of African nations will not achieve the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation, and says that African heads of state – who re-committed themselves to promoting maternal health at the July summit of the African Union – to resolve questions of sanitation if they want to reduce child and maternal mortality.

In rural areas, where 80 percent of Burkina Faso’s population lives, the government’s plan is for 395,000 households to build toilets, as well as the construction of 12,300 public latrines. The programme also foresees 222,000 new household toilets in urban centres, alongside 900 public latrines in schools, health centres, markets and public transit points.

The Burkinabé president, Blaise Compaoré, personally participated in the launch of the campaign, with an eye to enlisting both the general population and international financial partners to make sanitation a national priority.

The government offensive comes after finding that the pace of progress is insufficient to attain the goal on sanitation in a context of rapid population growth. According to the last census in 2006, Burkina Faso’s growth rate of three percent is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa and the world.

“Across West and Central Africa, coverage in urban areas varies between 30 and 60 percent, while in rural areas the rate is from 1 to 22 percent,” says Armah Klutsé, of the Regional Centre for Low-cost Water Supply and Sanitation (known by its French acronym, CREPA).

With headquarters in Ouagadougou, CREPA is active in 17 West and Central African countries, where it supports governments in the design and implementation of policy on sanitation and potable water.

“With this display of political will, it seems that action will be taken to achieve (sanitation goals),” Klutsé says.

Source: Brahima Ouédraogo, Inter Press Service / allAfrica.com, 31 July 2010

Sanitation and Water for All: global partnership formalised, presenting itself in Stockholm

Sanitation and Water for All banner Two years after its launch, a global initiative aiming for sustainable sanitation and drinking water for all, is set to be formalised. Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) will hold its first Steering Committee meeting at the 2010 World Water Week in Stockholm on 7 September. The following day there will be an official presentation of Sanitation and Water for All in Stockholm, co-hosted by UNICEF and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).

The Steering Committee will be elected by SWA partner members that have registered before 16 July 2010. SWA partners fall into six constituencies: developing country governments, donors, multilaterals, development banks, international and regional civil society organisations (CSOs) and international sector organisations. SWA co-founder End Water Poverty is the official ‘constituency coordinator’ for civil society representation on the Steering Committee.

The initial focus of SWA is on achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for water and sanitation in the most off-track countries. In April 2010, SWA hosted its first annual High Level Meeting (HLM) in Washington DC. At the meeting, Finance and Water Sector Ministers from 18 countries met with representatives of donors, UN agencies and civil society.

The IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre has contributed to the development of the SWA as a member of the Interim Core Group (ICG).

Join the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership!

High Level Meeting of Sanitation and Water for All targets finance ministers

The first High Level Meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All global partnership is targeting Ministers of Finance and Ministers of Development Cooperation. They are considered to have the most influence when it comes to securing the investments needed for “Getting on-track for the sanitation and water MDG targets”, the focus for the meeting to be held on 23 April 2010 in Washington, DC, USA.

Sanitation and Water for All is a joint initiative launched by the UK and the Netherlands in September 2008, which now involves 17 other donors, multi-lateral agencies, civil society and other development partners. The initiative allocates £5 million (6 million Euros) over five years to an annual report and high level meeting focused on reviewing progress. A further joint Dutch-UK commitment was made of £85 million (100 million Euros) over the same period to help up to 20 poor countries develop and implement their own national water and sanitation plans.

The 2010 High Level Meeting will take place just before the weekend 2010 World Bank Spring Meetings which are attended by Ministers of Finance and Ministers for Development Cooperation. UNICEF will host the first High Level Meeting.

One of the expected outcomes of the meeting will be a greater understanding of the linkages between water, sanitation and economic growth. To support this outcome, economic case study reports for sanitation and drinking water have been prepared for 19 countries, 14 from Africa and 5 from Asia.

Another expected outcome is the “identification of specific steps countries can take to advance access to, and mobilize resources for, increasing access to safe water and sanitation – particularly countries with greatest needs; including the development of technical assistance tools to provide support for the development and implementation of national water and sanitation plans/strategies”.

More information on the High Level Meeting and on the Sanitation and Water for All initiative’s Global Framework for Action can be found on the web site of UN-Water.

Greater access to cell phones than toilets in India: UN experts call for sanitation for all by 2025

A new UNU-INWEH report offers 9-point prescription for achieving Millennium Development Goal for Sanitation by 2015.

Far more people in India have access to a cell phone than to a toilet and improved sanitation, according to UN experts who published a 9-point prescription for achieving the world’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation by 2015.

They also urge the world community to set a new target beyond the MDG (which calls for a 50 percent improvement in access to adequate sanitation by 2015) to the achievement of 100 percent coverage by 2025.

Recent UN research in India, the world’s second most populous country, shows roughly 366 million people (31 percent of the population) had access to improved sanitation in 2008.

Other data, meanwhile, shows 545 million cell phones are now connected to service in India’s emerging economy. The number of cell phones per 100 people has exploded from 0.35 in year 2000-01 to about 45 today.

Worldwide some 1.1 billion people defecate in the open. And data show progress in creating access to toilets and sanitation lags far behind world MDG targets, even as mobile phone connections continue to a predicted 1 billion in India by 2015.

Says Zafar Adeel, Director of United Nations University’s Canada-based think-tank for water, the Institute for Water, Environment and Health: “It is a tragic irony to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet.”

“Popular education about the health dangers of poor sanitation is also needed. But this simple measure could do more to save lives, especially those of young people, improve health and help pull India and other countries in similar circumstances out of poverty than any alternative investment. It can also serve as a very significant boost to the local economy.”

The new UNU report cites a rough cost of $300 to build a toilet, including labour, materials and advice. Worldwide, an estimated $358 billion is needed between now and 2015 to reach the MDG for sanitation – some of this funding is already mobilized at national and international levels.

“The world can expect, however, a return of between $3 and $34 for every dollar spent on sanitation, realized through reduced poverty and health costs and higher productivity – - an economic and humanitarian opportunity of historic proportions,” adds Dr. Adeel, who also serves as chair of UN-Water, a coordinating body for water-related work at 27 UN agencies and their many global partners.

[I]f current global trends continue [there will be] a 1 billion person shortfall from the MDG sanitation goal in 2015 — in all, 2.7 billion will lack access. So, while the world will miss the MDG target, the absolute number of those without access to sanitation will actually go up.

The problem is a major contributor to water-borne diseases that, in the past three years alone, killed an estimated 4.5 million children under the age of five — a death toll roughly equal to the population of Ireland or Costa Rica.

“This report [1] notes cultural taboos surround this issue in some countries, preventing progress,” says Zafar Adeel, Director of UNU-INWEH. “Anyone who shirks the topic as repugnant, minimizes it as undignified, or considers unworthy those in need should let others take over for the sake of 1.5 million children and countless others killed each year by contaminated water and unhealthy sanitation.”

The UNU-INWEH report synthesizes information from a wide range of UN and sources:

  • Of the estimated $358 billion cost to meet the MDG target, $142 billion is needed to expand coverage (mostly to rural areas) and $216 billion to maintain existing services (mostly in urban areas)
  • For all of Africa to meet the water and sanitation MDGs, the number of people served must double from the 350 million served in 2006. At current rates of progress in Sub-Saharan Africa, the sanitation MDG might not be met until 2076
  • An estimated 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases
  • Once girls reach puberty, lack of access to sanitation becomes a central cultural and human health issue, contributing to female illiteracy and low levels of education, in turn contributing to a cycle of poor health for pregnant women and their children

The report offers nine recommendations:

  • Address sanitation in the context of global poverty and in concert with the other MDGs as part of an overall strategy to increase global equity;
  • Make sanitation a primary focus within the broader context of water management and access to safe water;Integrate sanitation into community life – holistic, community-based and communitydriven.
  • Empower local communities (not just households) to identify needs, change behaviour, create demand for ownership and overcome obstacles such as land tenure;
  • Make coordinated, long-term sanitation investments focused on both “software” (usage) and “hardware” (facilities). To make monitoring more valuable, integrate failures and successes associated with sanitation delivery in community-based evaluations;
  • Redefine “acceptable” sanitation access within the context of gender, economic realities and environmental constraints;
  • Adjust the MDG target from a 50 percent improvement in access to adequate sanitation by 2015 to 100 percent coverage by 2025;
  • Co-ordinate the responses of national NGOs to the sanitation crisis and enhance communication, especially regarding lessons learned, to form an effective and vocal sanitation advocacy group;
  • Design new business models to develop markets at the bottom of the pyramid and deal with the apexes of the water-sanitation-hygiene triangle concurrently;
  • Recommit to official development assistance equal to 0.7 percent of GDP and, within this framework, commit 0.002 percent of GDP to international investments in sanitation.

Says Dr. Adeel: “As president of the G8 in 2010, Canada has announced it will champion ‘a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions,’ making this the top priority of the leaders’ meetings in June. Better nutrition and immunization are foremost among the remedies cited.”

“We would urge, however, that providing decent sanitation be emphasized among the simple, inexpensive solutions available, as it would do more to save the lives than any other possible measure.”

Says report co-author Corinne Shuster-Wallace of UNU-INWEH: “Sanitation for all is not only achievable, but necessary. There is a moral, civil, political and economic need to bring adequate sanitation to the global population.”

[1] UNU-INWEH (2010). Sanitation as a key to global health : voices from the field. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health. Read the full report

Source: UNU-INWEH, Apr 2010