Tag Archives: MDGs

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

Reaching the MDG target for sanitation in Africa : a call for realism

An exclusive focus on reaching the MDG sanitation targets in Africa will have a “detrimental effect on the sustainability of the established infrastructure and may leave out the most important components of sanitation programs i.e. the motivation to use sanitary facilities and the need to change personal hygiene practices to improve health status”. This one of the conclusions of a new policy brief published by Danida.

The brief added that “the best use of public resources in the sanitation sector is likely to focus on building demand for sanitation, establishing clear policies on subsidies, building capacity among local government entities to enable coordination and monitoring of progress and quality of service, facilitating the creation of a commercially viable private sanitation service, allocating financial resources to essential large scale sanitation infrastructure and supporting educational institutions to produce a new generation of professionals in the sanitation sector. Once the financial regime for these long term elements has been worked out, additional funding can be earmarked or sought for specific short term interventions, including hardware subsidies based on micro-credit schemes or subsidised hardware sold through commercial outlets”.

Konradsen, F., Bjerre, J. and Evans, B. (2010). Reaching the MDG target for sanitation in Africa : a call for realism. Copenhagen, Denmark, Danida, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 50 p.
ISBN: 978-87-7087-299-7 (print version)
ISBN: 978-87-7087-300-0 (internet version)
Download PDF

This leaflet contains a set of Good Practice Notes on challenges in connection with provision of sanitation services from the perspective of international development assistance. It contains a synthesis paper:

  • Reaching the MDG Target for Sanitation in Africa – A Call for Realism

and four issue papers:

  • Building political commitment for sanitation in a fragmented institutional landscape
  • Hooked on sanitation subsidies
  • Challenges in supporting hygiene behavior change
  • Measuring progress in sanitation

Brazil: sanitation MDG could be reached by 2025 – study

Brazil could meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in sanitation by 2025, a full 10 years behind schedule, according to a study by NGO Instituto Trata Brasil (ITB).

The MDGs require the country to halve the urban population without sustainable access to basic sanitation services by 2015, which would have required an average 2.77% expansion in coverage each year from 1990-2015.

From 1990-2006, the deficit fell an average of 1.31%/y. At this rate, the goal would have taken 56 years to meet. In 2007 and 2008, however, the average rate fell by 4.18%/y. If this rhythm is kept up, the country will reach the goals in 16 years, the release said.

The creation of the cities ministry in 2003, changes in sanitation laws and the county’s growth acceleration plan (PAC) have contributed to the upward trend.

ITB president Raul Pinho and Marcelo Cortes Neri, head of the center for social research at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) presented the results of the study in São Paulo [at the end of November 2009].

“Giving PAC all the credit, however, may be a little premature,” Neri said, adding: “Local political decisions such as separating city centers from suburbs have also contributed.”

While 51% of the population now has access to sewage services, it is still low compared to other basic services such as electricity (98.6%), water (82%) and trash collection (79%).

A recent study released by the World Health Organization shows that 18mn Brazilians do not have bathrooms, according to Pinho.

“This is an embarrassing statistic as only six other countries have lower figures,” Pinho said, adding: “We need political will and an overall social awareness” to overcome the problems of basic sanitation in the country.

Source: Daniel Bland, BNamericas.com [subscription site], 26 Nov 2009

East Africa: Sanitation – ‘This Is the Way We Live’

In East Africa, not one country is on track to meet Millennium Development Goal Seven, which aims to reduce by half the number of people without access to clean drinking water and decent sanitation by 2015.

Despite governments in the region being signatories to several declarations on improving sanitation, many East African households still lack access to flush toilets or pit latrines. Open defecation is widespread, and ‘flying toilets’, where people defecate in plastic bags and throw them away at night are the rule rather than the exception in many informal settlements.

“This is the way we live. We do not have toilets, and no place to safely dispose of our waste,” said Nicholas Ambeyo [from Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums, in Nairobi, Kenya]. “Because of this, and the lack of sufficient water, and the open sewers that run through our houses, we are at a risk of contracting diseases.”

[…] Toilet coverage in Kenya is still low, with latrines available to less than 50 percent of the population, according to James Gesami, the country’s assistant minister for Public Health and Sanitation.

[…] “Sanitation is a newly thought-out issue and we have not given adequate resources to that sector, but things are changing now,” Gesami told IPS. Government statistics show that budgetary allocation to sanitation in Kenya currently stands at 13 million dollars per year, too little for the country to reach the sanitation MDG. It is estimated that the country will require about 40 million dollars per year if is to achieve the MDG by the set deadline of 2015.

[…] Sudan is [also] far from achieving the sanitation MDG, especially in war-affected areas. Access to improved sanitation in Southern Sudan is at 6.4 percent, way below the 2015 target of 53 percent. [I]n the north [it] stands at 39.9 percent, edging closer to the 2015 target of 67 percent. Minimal budgetary allocations for sanitation have made it difficult for the government to provide the majority of poor citizens with basic toilet and latrine facilities. This has been blamed for the widespread outbreaks of diarrhoeal ailments, according to Elobeid Mohammed, coordinator of Sudan National Discourse, a water and sanitation non-governmental body.

“Diarrhoea, especially among children is common during autumn because of the rains and blocked sewers. These are diseases that can be prevented by ensuring access to toilets and hygiene. By doing this, the government can save money and pump it to other crucial sectors of development,” Mohammed told IPS.

Charles Hakizimana, chairman of the African Ministers’ Council on Water, says efforts to improve latrine coverage have been jeopardised by extreme poverty, illustrating the situation with an example from Burundi.

“There are cases where development agencies have provided material to communities to dig latrines, but [beneficiaries] sell them and continue defecating in the bush. Often times the people have said: “give us food first, there is no need to construct pit latrines when we do not have anything to put in them,”” Hakizimana, said.

In addition, there are social obstacles to providing sanitation to all. For instance, in several parts of East Africa, it is taboo for fathers-in-law to share a latrine with his daughters-in-law or mothers-in-law to share with sons-in-law. […] Constructing separate latrines for different family members is far too costly.

Source: Joyce Mulama, IPS, 19 Dec 2008

Pakistan, NWFP: current status of water and sanitation related MDGs

The Water and Sanitation Program-South Asia (WSP-SA) office in Islamabad, Pakistan has researched the current status of water and sanitation related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).


NWFP has already met its quantitative MDG Targets in sanitation: Household surveys indicate that 75% of the population has access to a latrine, with 95% access to latrines in urban areas and 71% in rural areas.

However, data from the 2001/2 NWFP Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) suggests that as many as half of these latrines may be unsanitary. A tradition of ‘open defecation’ in NWFP means that even if latrines are present in the home they are not always used. In addition, the coverage of latrines in public places (markets, bus stands, railways, industry) is poor.

Water Supply

NWFP is ‘on track’ to meet its quantitative MDG Targets in drinking water supply: According to the trends reported from successive Federal Bureau of Statistic Surveys, 71% of the population of NWFP (91% of the urban population and 64% of the rural population) have access to an improved source.

Access to an improved source of water does not necessarily mean that this water is safe. In urban areas, intermittent supplies results in contamination within the piped distribution networks. In rural areas, failures in the treatment and protection of improved sources also lead to contamination. The extents of these risks are such that only 38% of the water accessed by consumers is estimated to be chemically and bacteriologically safe.

Read more: WESNews / drinking water-Pakistan Google Group, Sep 2008