April 21, 2010Development efforts in low income countries undermined by lack of investment in sanitation and water
Bottom billions miss out on life-saving aid
Poor targeting of aid for sanitation and water is undermining all development efforts, leaving the poorest of the poor entrenched in poverty, WaterAid said following the release of a new report today.
Safe water and sanitation could prevent 88% of child deaths from diarrhea.
Dieter Telemans / Panos
The UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS), produced by the WHO and UNICEF, shows that just 42% of aid
given to water and sanitation actually goes where it is needed - to low
income countries. Only four of the top ten donors provide 50% or more
of their development assistance to low income countries resulting in
the lion’s share of aid not reaching the poorest communities:
- Over 2006-2008 Jordan received an average of $500 in aid for every person without access to water, while Chad only received $3.
- Over 2006-2008 Georgia received an average of $250 in aid for every
person without access to sanitation, while Nepal only received $1.
There are 2.6 billion people worldwide who have no access to safe sanitation and, if we continue as we are, in sub-Saharan Africa the MDG target will not be met until the 23rd century.
Barbara Frost, Chief Executive, WaterAid
Figures in the report also show that despite diarrhea being the second biggest killer of children under five, funding for water and sanitation - which could prevent 88% of these deaths - has declined as a share of overall aid and remains a low political priority when compared to other sectors such as health and education.
The report also warns that there remains a huge financial gap to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). An extra $18.4 billion is needed globally each year to meet the goals of halving the proportions of people living without water and sanitation by 2015.
“Here is a global catastrophe which kills more children than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined and which is holding back all development efforts including health and education,” said Barbara Frost, Chief Executive of WaterAid.
“There are 2.6 billion people worldwide who have no access to safe sanitation and, if we continue as we are, in sub-Saharan Africa the MDG target will not be met until the 23rd century. Yet political leaders are failing to address this deadly crisis. Once again it is the poorest of the poor who are simply being ignored.”
The GLAAS report comes just two days before the first ever High Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water, where ministers and policy makers from over 30 countries will have the opportunity to commit to financial and political action which would begin to reverse years of neglect. The meeting is part of an international ‘Sanitation and Water for All’ initiative being launched this Friday in Washington, DC prior to the World Bank spring meetings.
WaterAid is calling on leaders at this High Level Meeting to make strong and concrete commitments to tackle the global water and sanitation crisis, ensuring that:
- No credible national sanitation and water plan fails through lack of finance
- Additional money is provided and targeting improved so that more aid goes to low income countries
- Governments join the Sanitation and Water for All initiative to accelerate progress
Increasing investment in sanitation and water will bring substantial health, education and economic benefits. WHO estimated in 2008 that more than 2.2 million child deaths per year could be prevented with safe water, sanitation and hygiene; and in a separate study, the WHO found that a $1 investment in water and sanitation offers an $8 return.
“The way forward is clear,” said Frost. “We have a report that says what needs to be done and we have an historic meeting that can deliver the necessary decisions. Such decisions could stop millions of children from dying, free up hospital beds and give girls in particular the opportunity to get an education. Come Friday, ministers must show global leadership and demonstrate their commitment to eradicating poverty by prioritizing sanitation and water in the wider development agenda.”
Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s CEO, is available for interviews from London. Colleagues from Kenya and Bangladesh are available in Washington, DC. To speak to a spokesperson or for high res images of WaterAid’s work, please contact: Chloe Irvine on +44 77716 545 44 firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jonathan Rich on +1-347-262-9115 or email@example.com.
To download The UN-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water
(GLAAS) report visit the WHO website.
(link opens in new window) Notes to Editors:About WaterAid
WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. Our mission is to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities. We work with partners and influence decision-makers to maximize our impact.
- At least 4,000 children die every day as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.
- 884 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly one in eight of the world's population.
- 2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, this is almost two fifths of the world's population.