News / Health

WHO: Poor Countries See Big Returns on Small Investment in Water, Sanitation

The World Health Organization issues latest U.N.-Water Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water report, which finds a small investment in water and sanitation returns big dividends.

Lisa Schlein

People in developed countries take a glass of safe water from the tap and a flush toilet for granted.  But the situation is quite different for many people in developing countries.

The World Health Organization reports 884 million people in poor countries have no access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people have no access to basic sanitation.

The World Health Organization says unsafe water and inadequate sanitation kill an estimated 2.2 million children under the age of five every year, and 1.5 million of these deaths are due to diarrhea.

WHO Director of Public Health and Environment Maria Neira says it would take very little to prevent these unnecessary deaths.

"Unfortunately, and in spite of the fact that we know very well that for every single dollar that you invest on water and sanitation, you will have a return, which will be between .. four and $34," she said. "In spite of that, we know and we have all the evidence, it still is not the case."  

One of the Millennium Development Goals is to cut deaths from water and sanitation in half by 2015.  The WHO report says there is compelling evidence that achieving this target would lower health-care costs, increase school attendance and boost productivity.

Despite the clear benefits of investing in this sector, the report says donors provide far less money for water and sanitation than they do for other social areas such as education and health.

Coordinator Robert Bos, of the WHO Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Health Unit, says when donors contribute to water and sanitation projects, they get their priorities wrong.

"In the context of water and sanitation, more money seems to be going to large-scale sophisticated piped water projects than into the community-based small-scale-bringing the essential safe water to these people who are in greatest needs,"  he said. "In other words, those that already have some level of access, just jump higher on the ladder.  But, the ones that are at the bottom, stay where they are - at the bottom."  

The report says conditions are worst in Africa.  But it says some countries in Asia are making improvements in accessing safe drinking water and sanitation.  

The findings of this report will be presented at a U.N.-sponsored meeting of finance ministers from 20 developing countries and 12 major donors Friday in Washington.  

The organizers say their aim is to inform the participants of the links between water, sanitation and economic growth. 

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid