Three in 10 lack ac­cess to clean wa­ter – UN

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

NEW YORK: About three in 10 peo­ple around the world lack ac­cess to safe and read­ily avail­able wa­ter at home, and al­most six in 10 to safely man­aged san­i­ta­tion, a new UN re­port has warned, call­ing on coun­tries to do more to ful­fil these ba­sic hu­man needs.

Ac­cord­ing to a World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) and the UN Chil­dren’s Fund (Unicef) joint re­port re­leased on Wed­nes­day, many homes, health-care fa­cil­i­ties and schools also lack soap and wa­ter for hand wash­ing, putting the health of all peo­ple – but es­pe­cially young chil­dren – at risk of deadly dis­eases. Due to a lack of these ba­sic ser­vices, mil­lions fall ill to dis­eases that could, oth­er­wise, have been eas­ily pre­vented – such as di­ar­rhoea which claims the lives of 361 000 chil­dren un­der the age of 5 ev­ery year, noted the UN agen­cies.

Good hy­giene is one of the sim­plest and most ef­fec­tive ways to pre­vent the spread of dis­eases such as di­ar­rhoea, cholera, dysen­tery, hep­ati­tis A, and ty­phoid. How­ever, find­ings in the re­port re­vealed that ac­cess to wa­ter and soap for hand wash­ing varies im­mensely in the 70 coun­tries with avail­able data, from 15% of the pop­u­la­tion in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa to 76% in western Asia and north­ern Africa.

These sig­nif­i­cant in­equal­i­ties also put the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs), in par­tic­u­lar Goal 6 on en­sur­ing avail­abil­ity and sus­tain­able man­age­ment of wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion for all, at risk. The two UN agen­cies also warned that in as many as 90 coun­tries around the world, progress to­wards ba­sic san­i­ta­tion is too slow, “mean­ing they will not reach uni­ver­sal cov­er­age by 2030”.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, of the 2.1 bil­lion peo­ple who do not have safely man­aged wa­ter, 844 mil­lion do not have even a ba­sic drink­ing wa­ter ser­vice. This in­cludes 263 mil­lion peo­ple who have to spend over 30 min­utes per trip col­lect­ing wa­ter from sources out­side the home, and 159 mil­lion who still drink un­treated wa­ter from sur­face wa­ter sources, such as streams or lakes.

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