WHO

Global efforts to provide improved water and sanitation for all are gaining momentum, but serious gaps in funding continue to hamper progress, according to a report from the World Health Organization on behalf of UN-Water.
wpid-World20Health20Organization2028WHO291.jpgThe UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS 2014), published biannually, presents data from 94 countries and 23 external support agencies.
The report which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday by Christian Lindmeier, WHO Communications Officer; offers a comprehensive analysis of strengths and challenges in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) provision within and across countries.
?For our partners, especially at country level, GLAAS is key for achieving sound, evidence-based decision-making,? said former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Chair of Sanitation and Water for All.
?The report guides governments in knowing where progress in WASH is being made and where more resources need to be allocated.?
Dr Maria Neira, Director of the WHO Department of Public Health and the Environment said: ?Water and sanitation are essential to human health. Political commitment to ensure universal access to these vital services is at an all-time high.?
?International aid for the sector is on the rise. But we continue to see major financial gaps at the country level, particularly in rural areas.?
According to the report two-thirds of the 94 countries surveyed recognized drinking-water and sanitation as a universal human right in national legislation.
It said more than 80 per cent reported having national policies in place for drinking-water and sanitation, and more than 75 per cent have policies for hygiene.
It noted that this strengthened political commitment at national levels is reflected in global discussions around the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report said universal and equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene had been proposed as global targets by the Member State working group tasked with developing the SDGs.
?Now is the time to act,? said Michel Jarraud, Chair of UN-Water and Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization.
?We may not know yet what the post-2015 sustainable development agenda will look like. But we do know that water and sanitation must be clear priorities if we are to create a future that allows everyone to live healthy, prosperous and dignified lives.?
International aid for water and sanitation is on the rise: According to the report, financial commitments for WASH increased by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2012?from $ 8.3 billion to $ 10.9 billion.
It said aid commitments were increasingly targeted to underserved regions, notably sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and South-eastern Asia.
GLAAS 2014 also highlights the strengthened targeting of WASH resources for the poor: more than 75 per cent of countries reported having specific measures in their national plans to provide water and sanitation for low-income populations.
?As we identify the financial and human resource gaps, governments and donors can be more strategic in supporting policies and in implementing sustainable programmes to ensure equitable access to water and sanitation for all people,? said Chris Williams, Executive Director of the UN-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
The report said despite these gains, 2.5 billion men, women and children around the world lack access to basic sanitation services.
It said about 1 billion people continue to practice open defecation, declaring that an additional 748 million people do not have ready access to an improved source of drinking-water.
It said hundreds of millions of people live without clean water and soap to wash their hands, facilitating the spread of diarrhoeal disease, the second leading cause of death among children under five.
The report noted that many other water-borne diseases, such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis, were prone to explosive outbreaks.
It said poor sanitation and hygiene could also lead to debilitating diseases affecting scores of people in the developing world, like intestinal worms, blinding trachoma and schistosomiasis.
It said investments in water and sanitation yield substantial benefits for human health and development.
According to WHO estimates, for every dollar invested in water and sanitation, there is a $ 4.3 return in the form of reduced health care costs for individuals and society.
The report said millions of children could be saved from premature death and illness related to malnutrition and water-borne diseases; while adults could live longer and healthier lives.
It said gains in quality of life include improved school attendance, greater privacy and safety?especially for women, children and the elderly?and a greater sense of dignity for all.
According to the report water and sanitation services in schools could ensure that children, especially girls, stay in school and learn lifelong hygiene habits.

GNA

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