November 18, 2011
Women economists join civil society call to United States policy makers to end the global sanitation crisis
An international group of 34 female economists has written an open letter to President Obama and ten other leaders of donor and developing countries to draw attention to the international water and sanitation crisis. In it they state:On the day you read this letter, 4,000 more children under five will die due to diseases brought about through unsafe water and poor sanitation. This equates to more child deaths than from AIDS, malaria and measles combined, making it the biggest child killer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Every $1 invested in water and sanitation generates an $8 return; making it the deal that will deliver for billions of the poorest people across the globe.
The letter is being released on the same day that a new report Off-track off-target: Why investment is not reaching those who need it most (PDF file 4.2MB)
is being published by the international non-profit organization WaterAid for World Toilet Day on November 19. The report shows that today 2.6 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation services; more than there were in 1990.
Unless urgent action is taken, nearly all governments in Sub-Saharan Africa and many in South Asia will fail to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) pledge they made to halve the proportion of people without sanitation by 2015.
On the current trajectory, it will take over two centuries for Sub-Saharan Africa to meet its sanitation MDG target. What is more, only 20 countries in the region are on-track to meet the water MDG target by 2015. All of this has massive consequences for child mortality in Africa.
It is critical that USAID continue to scale up its water, sanitation and hygiene programs, and at the same time Congress must ensure that foreign aid is not sacrificed to a tight fiscal climate.
- David Winder, CEO, WaterAid, America
Based on WaterAid South Asia projections, it will be 2029 before Bangladesh meets its MDG target on sanitation, while Nepal will not reach it until 2030 and India not until 2047.
Released a day before World Toilet Day,
the report states that to get the sanitation and water MDG targets back on track, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa need to spend at least 3.5% of GDP on sanitation and water while off track countries in South Asia need to spend at least 1% of GDP on sanitation. The report also calls on donor countries to double global aid flows to water, sanitation and hygiene by prioritizing an additional US$10 billion per year, ensuring funding set aside for WASH programs is used in conjunction with integrated programs in other international aid sectors, such as health and nutrition.
In addition to increased financing, the report states that governments should better target water and sanitation resources and services to the people and countries that need them the most, deploying careful analysis to reach communities for whom water and sanitation will have the greatest impact pursuant to US law. The report also identifies that it is the world’s poorest people who are being left behind; poor people in Africa are five times less likely to have access to adequate sanitation and over 15 times more likely to practise open defecation than Africa’s rich; while poor people in South Asia are 13 times less likely to have access to sanitation than the rich.
The WaterAid report highlights that the shortfall in water and sanitation services costs Sub-Saharan African countries around 5% of GDP each year (US$47.7 billion in 2009), more than is provided in development aid to the entire continent (US$47.6 billion in 2009). In India alone, the shortfall in water and sanitation services cost the economy around 6.4% of GDP, the equivalent of US$53.8 billion in 2006 according to the World Bank.
Dr. David Winder, Chief Executive of WaterAid in America, said:
“The United States is a global leader in international development and global health, including water, sanitation and hygiene. These programs not only save lives, but improve national and global economies and increase the well-being of us all. It is critical that USAID continue to scale up its water, sanitation and hygiene programs, and at the same time Congress must ensure that foreign aid is not sacrificed to a tight fiscal climate. We must protect our current investments in developing countries’ welfare; and ensure that the programs the US supports are efficient, integrated, equitable, and inclusive, targeted well to those who will benefit most. With its impact, efficiency and leveraging power, water and sanitation are a critical starting point.”
The Off-track, off-target
report is being published on the day WaterAid launches the Water Works campaign
to urge governments across the world to do more to tackle the water and sanitation crisis. The campaign aims to show world leaders that taps and toilets are simple, effective and affordable, and that investing in these basic human needs is an urgent priority.
For World Toilet Day, WaterAid in America has also joined with Amnesty International USA
to support the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act (S. 641, forthcoming in the House under the leadership of Congressman Blumenauer, D-OR), a bipartisan bill that builds upon a 2005 law defining water, sanitation and hygiene as a US foreign policy priority. Sponsored by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Corker (R-TN), Water for the World would use existing funds to improve the integration, equitability, and efficacy of current investments. NOTES:
For more information please contact Hratche Koundarjian on +44 (0)207 7793 4909 / +44 (0)7905 911 039 or by email email@example.com
at WaterAid UK.
For information specific to the US, please contact Lisa Schechtman, Head of Policy and Advocacy for WaterAid in America, on +1 202 729 6797 or +1 646 464 2919, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organization works in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, the Pacific region and Central America to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Over the past 30 years, WaterAid has reached 15.9 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 11 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit www.wateraidamerica.org