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World needs to do a lot more on water, sanitation, hygiene

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 Anish Narda
A recent report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization shows that billions of people around the globe have no access to water service. These include roughly 2.2 billion people with no access to drinking water. 4.2 billion people lack the water for sanitation purposes and around 3 billion people lack hand washing services.

The joint monitoring report agrees that major progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene has been achieved but there are still a lot of gaps to be filled.

There is access to water in many places but sometimes not enough access. Water isn’t clean, nearby and unlimited everywhere for people to use it, says Kelly Ann Naylor, Associate Director of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, UNICEF.

She added, "People living with their families in poor rural areas are most at risk as they are left unseen by the government. If we want no gap between economic and geographical divide, then the government needs to invest in their communities in these areas.”

The current report has revealed that over 1.8 billion people have gained access to basic drinking water since 2000 although various variations of accessibility, availability and quality of these services can be seen.

It was projected that every one in ten people (785 million) lacked basic services comprising the 144 million who drink untreated surface water. Eight in every ten people who live in rural areas lack access to all these services and in every one in four countries with estimates for different wealth groups, coverage of basic services among the richest was at least twice as high as among the poorest.

The report does say that, over 2.1 billion people have gained access to straightforward sanitation services since 2000 but wastes produced are still not safely managed in many parts of the world. Over 2 billion people still lack basic sanitation of which seven out of ten live in rural areas and one third live in the least developed areas.

673 million people still go through open defecation. Sub- Saharan Africa countries experience strong population growth and people practicing open defecation here has increased.

This report highlighted new data that showed 3 billion people did not have basic hand washing facilities with soap and water in 2017. Nearly three quarters of the population of the least developed countries did not have basic hand washing facilities and every year 297,000 children died under the age of 5 years due to diarrhea linked to inadequate wash.


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