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The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) drinking water target, which calls for halving the proportion of the world?s population that lack sustainable access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2015, was met in 2010, five years ahead of schedule.

This was announced in a report entitled ?Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update,? compiled by the World Health Organization/United Nations International Children?s Fund (WHO/UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday..

The report however explained why the job was far from finished and many still lacked safe drinking water, and the world was unlikely to meet the MDG target on sanitation.

It said continued efforts were needed to reduce urban-rural disparities and inequities associated with poverty; to dramatically increase coverage in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania; to promote global monitoring of drinking water quality, to bring sanitation ?on track? and to look beyond the MDG target towards universal coverage.

The report indicated that over 2 billion people gained access to improved water sources and 1.8 billion people gained access to improved sanitation facilities between 1990 and 2010.

It said this was impressive, particularly when the gains of countries that started at a low baseline and faced high population growth were considered.

It said much of the progress of the last 20 years had been in the context of rapid population growth, and this was why some of the news in the report was sobering.

The report reiterated that over 780 million people were still without access to improved sources of drinking water and 2.5 billion lacked improved sanitation.

It said if current trends continued, these numbers would remain unacceptably high in 2015, by which time 605 million people will be without an improved drinking water source and 2.4 billion people will lack access to improved sanitation facilities.

The report also discussed the beginnings of a process to develop new water, sanitation and hygiene goals, targets and indicators beyond 2015, in alignment with the human right to water and sanitation and the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JPM) for Water Supply and Sanitation, reports every two years on access to drinking water and sanitation worldwide and on progress towards related targets under MDG 7.

The 2012 report is based on data gathered from household surveys and censuses, including both recent and older data sets that have come to the attention of the JMP. As the world approaches the 2015 target date for the MDGs, WHO and UNICEF are addressing current monitoring challenges and those that lie ahead.

Source: GNA

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