Billions of People Lack Water and Sanitation Facilities

Clean water and sanitation is lacking for much of the world. In fact, according to the United Nations Development Program, water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the world’s population. Moreover, 4.5 billion people lack safely managed waste disposal facilities, and half of those people don’t even have basic sanitation options.

“Despite progress, billions of people still lack safe water, sanitation and handwashing facilities,” notes a recent UN update on progress toward meeting its 17 sustainable development goals. “Data suggests that achieving universal access to even basic sanitation service by 2030 would require doubling the current annual rate of progress. More efficient use and management of water are critical to addressing the growing demand for water, threats to water security and the increasing frequency and severity of droughts and floods resulting from climate change.” 

Worldwide, 785 million people lack access to basic drinking water, and 701 million lack basic sanitation facilities. “Safe water and adequate sanitation for all – the object of Sustainable Development Goal 6 — are indispensable to achieve many other goals,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres “Safe water and adequate sanitation underpin poverty reduction, economic growth and healthy ecosystems.They contribute to social well-being, inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods. But, growing demands for water, coupled with poor water management, have increased water stress in many parts of the world.”

Gutteres said solutions for water and sanitation need to be made more readily available to those in need. To that end, he called on the UN to lead efforts to transform a “silo-based approach to water supply, sanitation, water management and disaster risk reduction” in order to better address water issues and to combat climate change. He also said that existing water and sanitation programs and projects need to better align with the 2030 SDG agenda. Finally, he called for an increase cooperation and partnerships to address water and sanitation challenges.

“The growing water crisis should be much higher on the world’s radar,” he said. “Let us work collectively towards a more sustainable world, and an action-packed decade of ‘water for sustainable development.’”

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