Access to Safe Water and Sanitation Could Save 2.5 Million Lives Annually

luigig at Flickr/CC BY 3.0

A new report from WaterAid states the case for the need for immediate action on safe water and improved sanitation globally, as well as a continued commitment to investing in those same areas for the long-term.

“The need for action is overwhelming and the current situation where 37% of the world’s population still live without a toilet is unacceptable.” - David Winder, CEO of WaterAid America

In the report, Saving lives: sanitation and water for all would save 2.5 million lives, the authors say that the majority of developing countries are seriously off-track on meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) - halving the number of people living without safe water by 2015 - and will not meet that target anytime soon. Some places, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, will not be able to meet the target for over 150 years at the current rate.

The WaterAid report also says "the poor quality of sanitation and lack of access to safe drinking water causes 1.4 million child deaths every year, due to diarrhea, and that these deaths are preventable". The second biggest killer of children worldwide is diarrhea, which is caused by a lack of adequate sanitation and unsafe drinking water.

The report's findings come at a critical time, as the Sanitation and Water for All meeting in Washington (April 20) brings together 70 government ministers from over 60 countries to discuss the global water and sanitation crisis.

One focus of this meeting is to specifically call on the world's leaders to keep their own sanitation promises, as well as support the 57 countries which are currently most off-track to meeting their MDG sanitation targets.

"We now have an opportunity to do something about the current situation. This week there is a critical meeting in Washington where real progress on improving sanitation and water can be made. Progress on both fronts is essential to saving children’s lives and to delivering social and economic development." - Winder

WaterAid is an international development agency working on global water and sanitation issues. Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) is a partnership of governments, donors, civil society and multilateral organizations, working to ensure that all people have access to basic sanitation and safe drinking water.

Tags: Drinking Water | Toilets | Water Crisis