Considerable progress has been made increasing access to water and sanitation over the last 15 years.
Yet, a major goal remains unreachable for much of the world’s population and collectively we are still “off track”.
That’s according to the United Nations (UN) in its latest World Water Development Report, Leaving No One Behind.
The report was launched ahead of this year’s World Water Day and the theme ‘leave no one behind’, designed to reduce discrimination when it comes to accessing water.
Discrimination could be based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, age and health status.
Goal 6 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to guarantee sustainable management of, and access to, water and sanitation for all by 2030.
However, in 2015, three in ten people (2.1 billion) did not have access to safe drinking water and 4.5 billion people, or six in ten, had no safely managed sanitation facilities.
Furthermore, at the current pace of progress, billions of people will remain unable to enjoy their right to access to water and sanitation, warned UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay in the report.
Reducing water access discrimination
Officially assigned to March 22 in 1993 by the UN General Assembly, World Water Day centre’s the world’s attention on tackling the global water crisis.
Seven years later, in 2010 the UN recognised “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights”.
Recognising the right to water
Water services must also meet the needs of marginalized groups and that “regulatory and legal frameworks must recognise the right to water for all people”.
“Access to water is a vital right for the dignity of every human being,” added Azoulay. “Yet, billions of people are still deprived of this right.”
Gilbert F. Houngbo, chair of UN-Water and president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, added: “The numbers speak for themselves. As the Report shows, if the degradation of the natural environment and the unsustainable pressure on global water resources continue at current rates, 45% of global Gross Domestic Product and 40% of global grain production will be at risk by 2050. Poor and marginalized populations will be disproportionately affected, further exacerbating already rising inequalities.”
World Water Day facts
2.1 billion people live without safe water at home
One in four primary schools have no drinking water service, with pupils using unprotected sources
More than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation
Globally, 80% of the people who have to use unsafe and unprotected water sources live in rural areas
Around four billion people – nearly two-thirds of the world’s population – experience severe water scarcity during at least one moth of the year
Women and girls are responsible for water collection in eight out of 10 households with water off-premises.
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