Meeting Global Targets for Water and Sanitation | un.org>>
There are 1.1 billion people, or 18 per cent of the world’s population, who lack access to safe drinking water. About 2.6 billion people, or 42 per cent of the total, lack access to basic sanitation (WHO/UNICEF, 2005 : 40)
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) call for halving “by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” The MDG for safe drinking water on a global scale appears likely to be reached, in most regions, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa (WHO/UNICEF, 2005 : 26).
Within the United Nations system, UN-Water is the inter-agency mechanism that coordinates the activities of 24 agencies of the United Nations system in the area of water resources, including sanitation.
1.1 billion people gained access to safe drinking water between 1990-2002. The greatest access gains were achieved in South Asia , where water access increased from 71 per cent in 1990 to 84 per cent in 2002. In sub-Saharan Africa , access grew minimally, from 49 percent in 1990 to 58 per cent in 2002. (WHO/UNICEF, 2004 : 10).
It is estimated that an additional investment of US$ 11.3 billion per year would be needed to achieve the MDGs for drinking water and sanitation at the most basic levels WHO/UNICEF, 2005 : 2)
Key Water and Sanitation Statistics
The world’s population, 6.2 billion people in 2002, is expected to increase to approximately 7.2 billion people by 2015. Almost 95 per cent of the increase is expected to be in developing regions (WHO/UNICEF, 2005 : 40).
Only one per cent of the total water resources on earth is available for human use. While 70 per cent of the world’s surface is covered by water, 97.5 per cent of that is salt water. Of the remaining 2.5 per cent that is freshwater, almost 68.7 per cent is frozen in ice caps and glaciers UN-WWAP, 2006 : Fig. 4.1).
Water withdrawals for irrigation have increased by over 60 per cent since 1960. About 70 per cent of all available freshwater is used for irrigation in agriculture. Yet because of inefficient irrigation systems, particularly in developing countries, 60 per cent of this water is lost to evaporation or is returned to rivers and groundwater aquifers UN-WWAP, 2006 : 173).
Water use increased six-fold during the 20th Century, more than twice the rate of population growth. While water consumption in industrialized countries runs as high as 380 litres/capita/day in the United States (USGS, 2004) and 129 litres/capita/day in Germany (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2000), in developing countries 20-30 litres/capita/day are considered enough to meet basic human needs.
In parts of the United States, China and India , groundwater is being consumed faster than it is being replenished, and groundwater tables are steadily falling. Some rivers, such as the Colorado River in the western United States and the Yellow River in China, often run dry before they reach the sea.
Freshwater ecosystems have been severely degraded: it is estimated that about half the world’s wetlands have been lost, and more than 20 per cent of the world’s 10,000 known freshwater species have become extinct, threatened or endangered ( UN-DESA: 10 ).
The Global Water Supply Situation
Water scarcity: it was estimated that in 1995 about 1.76 billion people (out of approx. 5.7 billion world population (UN, 2005) were living under severe water stress (UN-WWAP, 2006 : 442).
By 2025, it is estimated that about two thirds of the world’s population – about 5.5 billion people – will live in areas facing moderate to severe water stress (UN, 1997 : 19).
The areas most affected by water shortages are in North Africa and Western and South Asia . For 25 per cent of Africa ‘s population, chronic water stress is high: 13 per cent of the population experience drought-related water stress once each generation, and 17 per cent are without a renewable supply of water (UN-WWAP, 2006 , 442).
83 per cent of the world’s population used improved drinking water sources in 2002, up from an estimated 79 per cent in 1990 WHO/UNICEF/WSSCC, 2000 : 9; WHO/UNICEF, 2004 : 9). Approximately 42 per cent of the people with access to water have a household connection or yard tap. However, approximately 1.1 billion people still do not have access to improved drinking water (WHO/UNICEF, 2005 : 11).
People in slum areas have very limited access to safe water for household uses. A slum dweller may only have 5 to 10 litres per day at his or her disposal, while a middle- or high-income person in the same city may use some 50 to 150 litres per day, if not more (UN-WWAP, 2006 : 46) .
0. Up to 30 per cent of fresh water supplies are lost due to leakage in developed countries, and in some major cities, losses can run as high as 40 to 70 per cent (UN-WWAP, 2006 : 150).
The Global Sanitation Situation
If increases in sanitation coverage stay as low as between 1990 and 2002, the world will fall short of its MDG target by over half a billion people by 2015 (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 24).
In 2002, 2.6 billion people – roughly 42 per cent of the world’s population – had no access to improved sanitation facilities. An additional 1.8 billion people need to be provided with improved sanitation from 2002 to 2015 to achieve the MDG to halve the proportion unserved in 1990. Even if that target is achieved, still 1.8 billion people will lack adequate sanitation in 2015 due to population increase (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 5).
In developing countries rural communities have less than half the sanitation coverage (37 per cent) of urban areas (81 per cent) (WHO/UNICEF, 2004: 31).
Sanitation coverage levels are lowest in the Sub-Saharan Africa (36 per cent) and South Asia (37 per cent) regions (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 5).
About 90 per cent of sewage and 70 per cent of industrial wastes in developing countries are discharged into water courses without treatment, often polluting the usable water supply.
Water, Sanitation and Health
More than 2.2. million people, mostly in developing countries, die each year from diseases associated with poor water and sanitary conditions (WHO/UNICEF/WSSCC, 2000: V).
At any one time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-borne diseases.
Every week an estimated 42,000 people die from diseases related to low quality drinking water and lack of sanitation. Over 90 per cent of them occur to children under the age of 5 (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 15).
Two of the water-related diseases, diarrhoea and malaria, ranked 3rd and 4th place in the cause of death among children under 5 years old, accounting for 17 per cent and 8 per cent respectively of all deaths (WHO, 2005: 106).
In sub-Saharan Africa, a baby’s chance of dying from diarrhoea is almost 520 times the chance of that in Europe or the United States (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 16).
Improvements in drinking-water quality through household water treatment, such as chlorination at point of use and adequate domestic storage, can lead to a reduction of diarrhoea episodes by between 35 and 39 per cent, while hygiene interventions, such as hygiene education and promotion of hand washing, can lead to a reduction of diarrhoeal cases by up to 45 per cent (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 13).
Gender, water and sanitation
For a family of six, collecting enough water for drinking, cooking and basic hygiene may mean hauling heavy water containers from a distant source for an average of three hours a day. Women and girls are mainly responsible for fetching the water that their families need for drinking, bathing, cooking and other household uses (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 11).
Poor health resulting from inadequate water and sanitation robs the children of schooling and the adults of earning power, a situation aggravated for the women and girls by the daily chore of collecting water (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 11).
For pregnant women, access to enough good quality water is vitally important to protect them from serious diseases such as hepatitis (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 20).
Women face the challenge of maintaining basic household hygiene and keeping their own and their infants’ hands and bodies clean with limited water supplies, and at the same time avoiding contamination of water stored for drinking and cooking (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 20).
Currently, in sub-Saharan Africa, a larger proportion of women are infected with HIV than men. When women are living with HIV/AIDS, their suffering has a double impact on their families’ water problems (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 21).
Adoption of sustainable hygiene behaviours is strongly linked to the educational level of women. Better-educated women are more likely to adopt long-term hygiene behaviours (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 31).
1.3 billion women and girls in developing countries are doing without access to private, safe and sanitary toilets. In some cultural settings where basic sanitation is lacking, women and girls have to rise before dawn, making their way in the darkness to fields, railroad tracks and roadsides to defecate in the open, knowing they may risk rape or other violence in the process (WHO/UNICEF, 2004: 21).
The lack of adequate, separate sanitary facilities in schools is one of the main factors preventing girls from attending school, particularly when menstruating. Gender-sensitive school sanitation programmes can increase girls’ enrolment significantly. In Bangladesh girls’ enrolment was increased by as much as 11 per cent over a four-year period (UN-WWAP, 2006: 230), while in the Morocco Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project of the World Bank school attendance in 6 provinces increased by even 20% in four years. Time spent on collecting water by women and young girls was reduced by 50 to 90% (World Bank, 2003).
The Economics of Investments in Water & Sanitation
A WHO Cost-Benefit Analysis showed that every US$1 invested in improved drinking water and sanitation services can yield economic benefits of US$4 to US$34 depending on the region (WHO) (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 4). The economic benefits of household water treatment – such as the application of chlorination, solar disinfection, filters or combined flocculation and chlorination powders – can yield benefits of US$ 5 to 140 per US$ 1 invested (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 24 [data available in hardcopy version only]).
The economic payback from investing US$11.3 billion per year to reach the Millennium targets for drinking water and sanitation by 2015 is estimated to be US$ 84 billion (WHO, 2004: 34).
WHO has estimated that productivity gains from a reduction in diarrhoeal disease if the MDG drinking water and sanitation target is reached will exceed US$ 700 million a yea (WHO/UNICEF, 2005: 16).