'Water for all' faces tough road ahead
Paris, August 28, 2012
Despite tremendous progress in the last two decades in bringing access to improved drinking water sources to billions of people, finishing the task is not going to be easy, said a top UN official.
No doubt, there have been outstanding gains in every region of the world, remarked Sanjay Wijesekera, the head of Unicef’s water, sanitation and hygiene programmes.
However, the job is not done until every single person every day can get sufficient drinking water from a reliable source—and unfortunately the most difficult part is ahead,' Wijesekera said.
'Between 1990 and 2010 more than 2 billion people have gained access to improved sources of drinking water such as piped supplies, or protected wells, said Wijesekera citing a report, 'Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012,' released earlier this year by Unicef and the World Health Organization.
The report comes as the 'World Water Week,' organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) kicked off on Monday.
Unicef said the world reached the 'Millennium Development Goal' on drinking water in 2010, five years ahead of schedule, but that 783 million people are still without access.
Those still without access are the hardest to reach, being largely the poorest people in urban slums or deep rural areas, it stated.
According to Unicef, the most important step in providing universal access will be to address the inequities which exist in all regions and at all levels and where the poorest and women are most affected.
'When water is not available on premises and has to be collected, women and girls are much more likely to be the main water carriers for families, walking an average of six kilometresper day in some regions,' the report pointed out.
Poorer countries lag far behind their wealthier counterparts, as only 11 per cent of the population in least developed countries (LDCs) use piped water supplies compared to over 50 per cent of the global population.
Within countries, there is an almost universal disparity of access in rural areas compared to urban areas. Overall, 80 per cent of the world’s urban population has piped water connections, compared to less than 30 per cent of people in rural areas, said the report.
The rural-urban divide is particularly acute in Sub-Saharan Africa where the gap is 29 percentage points. In LDCs ninety-seven out of every 100 rural dwellers do not have access to piped water.
Unicef projected that in 2015 when the millennium development goals are due, 605 million people will still not have this basic human right.
The principles of “The Human Right to Water” endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2010 state that drinking water should be affordable, reliable, safe, accessible and available in a sufficient quantity to meet basic needs.
Unicef is a member of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) global partnership aimed at achieving universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking-water.-TradeArabia News Service