News / Health

Billions Still Lack Access to Safe Drinking Water, Sanitation

FILE - A child fills a container with water for domestic use in Delmas, east of Johannesburg, South Africa.
FILE - A child fills a container with water for domestic use in Delmas, east of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Lisa Schlein
Two leading U.N. agencies are calling for greater action to provide safe drinking water and basic sanitation to more than three billion people. A joint report by the World Health Organization and U.N. Children’s Fund says more must be done to close the gap between the billions who have access to improved water and sanitation and those who do not.  

Significant progress has been made since 1990. The United Nations reports almost two billion people now have access to improved sanitation and 2.3 billion people have access to safe drinking water. Of these, 1.6 billion have water piped into their homes.  

That is the good news. But the bad news, says Maria Neira, WHO's director of public health, environmental and social determinants of health, is that more than 700 million people still need access to good drinking sources. Half of these people live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“And, more than one-third of the global population, some 2.5 billion people, they do not use an improved sanitation facility, And, of them, one billion-they still practice open defecation,” she said. 

UNICEF is mounting a huge campaign with the government of India called "Take The Poo To The Loo." The cartoon characters prancing about in this video are very amusing.  But there is nothing funny about some 600 million people in India defecating out in the open.

UNICEF Senior Statistics and Monitoring Specialist Rolf Luyendijk says a number of governments are making a real push to get the poorest members of their societies to move away from open defecation to fixed-place defecation.

“The way they are doing that is through trying to bring about a change in social norms-that it is socially unacceptable that people practice open defecation," he said. "So, that it is frowned upon …it is making it almost unacceptable in a community to still practice that and that approach has been very successfully used currently in more than 80 countries.”  

The report notes poor sanitation and contaminated water are linked to the spread of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid. It notes diarrhea alone is responsible for 842,000 deaths a year due to inadequate water and sanitation.

More than half of the global population lives in cities. The report says urban areas are still better supplied with improved water and sanitation than rural ones. But it notes the gap is closing.  

As of now, the report says, 116 countries have met the Millennium Development Goal Target for cutting in half the number of people who lack safe drinking water by 2015. It says 77 countries have met the MDG target for sanitation targets.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. O'Mally from: UK
May 11, 2014 8:22 PM
Well, for starters AGENDA 21 will not help these people either.

EDUCATE YOURSELF ON THE HORRORS OF AGENDA 21!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid