40 developing nations set new course for WaSHBangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka
Ministers from almost 40 developing countries have set a new course of action towards achieving safe water, sanitation and hygiene for their every citizen in a shortest possible time, said a message available in Dhaka on Saturday.
The decision makers, who attended the second high-level meeting of Sanitation and Water for All in Washington DC on Friday, agreed that more investments and policy focus were needed to improve the quality of life through universal access to WaSH.
The meeting, second of its kind and was held ahead of World Bank’s spring meetings of this week, brought together the donors and agencies with 69 ministers responsible for finance, sanitation and hygiene portfolios.
It comes against the backdrop of an announcement in March from UNICEF and the World Health Organisation that the world had met the Millennium Development Goal target for improved drinking water sources, but many still lack safe water, while the target for improved sanitation is lagging far behind and will not be met at current rates of progress.
‘Yet today, 1.1 billion people still practise open defecation because they lack the most basic sanitation facilities,’ said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake at the meeting. He continues: ‘If, two generations ago, we landed men on the moon, we can and we must afford people here on earth their most basic needs.’
Former president of Ghana and newly appointed chair of the SWA partnership John Agyekum Kufuor said ‘it is time to focus our energies on neglected areas and neglected people. The dream of universal access to sanitation and water is within our reach, but a tremendous increase in political will, adequate resources and coordinated efforts is required to get us there.’
Ambassador Jan Eliasson, who has recently been named as the United Nations’ fourth deputy secretary general, noted that sanitation and hygiene were now being recognised as a cornerstone of development, security and well-being, and key to the welfare of the citizens of the world.
‘The ministers who meet today are mindful of the economic value of sanitation and water to developing economies, but also of the human value,’ Eliasson says.
‘They have in mind the children who must be protected from illness, the boys and girls who must go to school, the women who must be freed from back-breaking labour.’
According to UNICEF, at least 2.5 billion cases of diarrhoea occur in children under five years of age every year, and an estimated 3,000 children die from it daily.
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