By Harold Lockwood - During the recent World Water Week in Stockholm, the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Netherlands Foreign Ministry and IRC International Water an…
Memorial Day Weekend officially began the summer travel season in the United States. As millions of children pack into cars, buses and planes they ask “are we there yet?” On the flip side, approximately one billion children in developing countries also ask “are we there yet” while collecting water or seeking a clean and safe place to go to the bathroom. What is the United States’ response to the global need for sustainable access to water and sanitation?
Two recent reports shape the response, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the first Water and Development Strategy 2013-2018 and the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) released the Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water 2013 update. The JMP 2013 Update provides a snapshot of the areas around the world with the greatest water and sanitation needs and the USAID strategy outlines a roadmap to reach some of these areas.
2013 Update Snapshot: Although significant progress has been achieved on providing access to water and sanitation, especially in Asia and in urban areas, the JMP 2013 Update shows that there is still more work to be done. Of the 768 million people without access to improved drinking water, 83% live in rural areas, and as the first map shows, the countries with the lowest rates of access are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 2.5 billion who lack access to sanitation, 71% live in rural areas; and as the second map shows, the majority of countries with the lowest proportion of population with access to sanitation are also in Sub-Saharan Africa.
One billion of the 2.5 billion people without access to sanitation practice open defecation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, open defecation rates are increasing. This is problematic for water and food security. Evidence shows that open defecation is linked to stunting and malnutrition because increased prevalence of feces and germs in food and water sources adversely affects the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients. Solving open defecation is a big step towards achieving food security and improving global health.
The USAID Water Strategy Roadmap: The strategy recognizes the importance of water in meeting development priorities of improved health and increased food security. In order to achieve the overarching goal to save lives and advance development, the strategy focuses on two strategic objectives:
- The Water for Health objective would provide at least 10 million additional people with sustainable access to improved water sources, 6 million additional people with a safe and sustainable sanitation, and hygiene behaviors, such as hand washing, will be adopted.
- The Water for Food objective seeks to improve water use productivity in rain fed areas and irrigated agricultural systems so that more people can receive higher incomes from higher food yields.
USAID invests approximately $500 million annually for water-related projects. Going forward, USAID will be more selective in funding high priority countries, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Funding will be directed to those countries where more people lack access to safe water and sanitation and where more children below five years of age are susceptible to diarrhea. The 2013 JMP Update helps with prioritization by showing countries with low access.
As USAID water programs work to improve health and food security, the strategy will focus on the following key issues:
- gender equality and female empowerment;
- monitoring and evaluation to build sustainability from the start;
- integrated water resource management;
- science and technology;
- resilience; and,
- innovative financing models.
This approach calls for evidence-based action, host-country ownership, collaboration and improved transparency and accountability to the American taxpayer, communities, USAID and implementing organizations.
So the question remains: are we there yet? According to the JMP 2013 Update, the answer is “not yet.” The USAID Water Strategy lays out a strong framework that sets us on a path to answer “much closer” to the question of achieving universal access to water and sanitation that is sustainable by the time the JMP 2018 Update is released. It is a call to action. If you follow the math, 780 million people still lack clean water, and 2.6 billion sanitation. The USAID Strategy itself targets to reach 10 million and 6 million people with water and sanitation respectively but a key component in amplifying this progress is partnerships. The USAID Strategy emphasizes partnerships with new and existing actors to leverage expertise and resources to close the gap. The strategy presents a clear vision for the next five years, but it, along with the success of making marked improvement in achieving universal access, hinges upon increased and enhanced collaboration with non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector, local and national governments and international donors. Working together, we can get there.
New York, NY, United States — International water and sanitation non-profit WaterAid and the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation announced on April 29 that they were teaming up on projects to bring safe potable water to three locations in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia.
“We are delighted to partner with The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation to bring lifesaving safe water and sanitation to people who are too often ignored,” David Winder, CEO of WaterAid America, said in a news release.
GWC knows that access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene is the cornerstone for stability, community development and one day —prosperity. Over 780 million people lack access to improved sources of drinking water and 2.5 billion lack improved sanitation, but across the world, progress is being made to bring access to these basic services.
What follows is the GWC perspective on the State of WASH, but we want to hear from you. What trends have you noticed in the WASH sector? What encourages you in your work? What are the important lessons we should all learn as we move forward to try and eradicate the WASH access gap?
“The Business of Sanitation” learning event brought together a wide range of participants for an engaging conversation about business approaches to sanitation. This event addressed the need to organize sanitation systems, looked at new business ventures in the sanitation sector, and identified potential avenues for growth and development.
Click here to read the full outcome report.
On World Water Day (March 22, 2013), Decode Global launched Get Water!, an iPhone/iPad game that aims to truly make an impact on the lives of girls and women. The game follows the story of Maya, a young girl in the slums of India who is pulled from school to collect water for her family.
Washington, DC, United States — Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) experts from around the world met last week at World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC, to discuss how to improve sustainability of international WASH programs.
World Water Day is held every March 22. Recognized by the United Nations and the global community, World Water Day reminds us that much of the world still faces a global water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) crisis, and that it is our urgent obligation to act.This year’s theme as designated by the UN General Assembly is: International Year of Water Cooperation.As a testament to this theme, efforts to coordinate events for World Water Day 2013 are taking place across the globe. This year, we are especially excited about events happening around the United States, including: performances, walks for water, social media, forums, learning events, Advocacy Day, and Water Symposia! For more details on each event, see below.Let’s all help to make every day World Water Day!
Haitian government reveals $2.2 billion blueprint for water and sanitation investments to eliminate cholera transmission over the next 10 years
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 27 February 2013 (PAHO/WHO) — The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) today called on the international community to provide financing for a new $2.2 billion plan from the Haitian government to eliminate cholera transmission over the next 10 years through major investments in water and sanitation.
Feb. 19, 2013 - Bangkok, thailand — Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra last week expressed concern that drought conditions in many provinces could intensify over the next three months, and vowed to continue to pursue long-term solutions focused on sustainable water management.
To date, 29 Thai provinces have been declared drought disaster zones, she said.