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Celebrating water for life: The International Decade for Action 2005-2015: Previous page | 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13

The Decade


The Decade directly reinforces and urges countries to meet the MDG 7, Target 10. The Millennium Declaration, adopted in September 2000 by the heads of 189 UN Member States, set clear, time-bound targets for making real progress on the most pressing development issues we face. The water Target 10 was reiterated at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, where a sanitation target was added. Achieving these targets will directly affect the lives and future prospects of billions of people around the globe. It will also set the world on a positive course at the start of the 21st century.

The MDG 7 is to ensure environmental sustainability. One of its targets, expanded in 2002 in Johannesburg, is directly linked to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation and specifically calls to:

Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation.

The world is on track to meet the drinking-water target, but sub-Saharan Africa lags behind. Between 1990 and 2002 considerable worldwide progress was made, with about 1.1 billion people gaining access to improved water sources. Global coverage in 2002 reached 83%, putting the world on track to achieve the MDG target. Progress in sub-Saharan Africa was also impressive: coverage increased from 49 to 58% between 1990 and 2002, a 9 percentage point increase. But this falls far short of the progress needed to achieve the MDG target of 75% coverage by 2015.

Global sanitation coverage rose from 49% in 1990 to 58% in 2002. Still, some 2.6 billion people — half of the developing world — live without improved sanitation. Sanitation coverage in the developing world (49%) is only half that of the developed world (98%). Meeting the MDG target requires that, between 1990 and 2015, the world must reduce by half the proportion of the population lacking improved drinking-water sources and sanitation. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a process that can assist countries in their endeavour to deal with water issues in a cost-effective and sustainable way. Investment in integrated water resources development and management can contribute to meeting the MDGs as a whole, both through broad interventions designed to promote sustainable development in an area (such as multipurpose river basin development and acquifer management) and through targeted action addressing one of more particular goals in a specific locations (such as watershed management within degraded areas farmed by poor families). Both types of interventions are important for turning many of the MDGs into a reality. Among the approaches shown to be effective in speeding up progress in spite of several obstacles are the devolution of responsibility and ownership and providing a choice of service levels to communities, based on their ability and willingness to pay. Meeting the drinking-water targets will mean better health, longer lives and greater dignity for billions of the world's poorest people.

Although the MDG 7 is specifically related to water, all MDG goals will have some impact in advancing and reaching the water target just as the water target will be important in advancing and reaching all MDG goals.

The following highlights the importance of safe water and how it can contribute to each MDG by goal:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

  • The security of household livelihoods rest on the health of its members; adults who are ill themselves or must care for sick children are less productive.
  • Illnesses caused by unsafe drinking-water and inadequate sanitation generate high health costs relative to income for the poor.
  • Healthy people are better able to absorb nutrients in food than those suffering from water-related diseases, particularly helminth infections, which rob their hosts of calories.
  • The time lost because of long-distance water collection and poor health contributes to poverty and reduced food security.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

  • Improved health and reduced water-carrying burdens improve school attendance, especially among girls.
  • Having separate sanitation facilities for girls and boys in school increase girl's attendance, especially after they enter adolescence

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

  • Reduced time, health and care-giving burdens from improved water services give women more time for productive endeavours, adult education and leisure

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

  • Improved sanitation and drinking-water sources reduces infant and child morbidity and mortality.

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

  • Accessible sources of water reduce labour burdens and health problems resulting from water portage, reducing maternal mortality risks.
  • Safe drinking-water and basic sanitation are needed in health care facilities to ensure basic hygiene practices following delivery.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases

  • Safe drinking-water and basic sanitation help prevent water-related disease, including diarrhoeal diseases, schistosomiasis, filariasis, trachoma and helminths.
  • The reliability of drinking-water supplies and improved water management in human settlement areas reduce transmission risks of malaria and dengue fever.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Adequate treatment and disposal of wastewater contributes to better ecosystem conservation and less pressure on scarce freshwater resources. Careful use of water resources prevents contamination of groundwater and helps minimize the cost of water treatment.

Goal 8: Develop partnership for development

  • Development agendas and partnerships should recognize the fundamental role that safe drinking-water and basic sanitation play in economic and social development.

Celebrating water for life: The International Decade for Action 2005-2015: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 | Next page


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