Home NewsInternational ‘World couldn’t achieve Universal access to Water, Sanitation’

‘World couldn’t achieve Universal access to Water, Sanitation’

by Haruna Gimba
0 comment

 By Asmau Ahmad

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) said with less than seven years left to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world is not yet on track to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

The two UN agencies concluded that achieving universal coverage by 2030 would require a six-fold increase in current rates of progress for safely managed drinking water, a five-fold increase for safely managed sanitation, and a three-fold increase for basic hygiene services.

This was reflected in the 2023 report by the WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene, which is the first to include an in-depth analysis of gender inequalities, highlighting the risks women and girls face from inadequate access to safe WASH.

The JMP for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene is responsible for monitoring global progress towards the SDG targets and indicators relating to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. It produces national, regional and global estimates of progress on WASH in households, schools and healthcare facilities.

The UN agencies in a report signed by Chief Statistician, Deputy Director, Division of Data, Analytics, Planning and Monitoring, UNICEF, João Azevedo, noted that women and girls over the age of 15 are primarily responsible for water collection in seven out of 10 households from supplies located off-premises.

The report stated that women and adolescent girls in very poor households face other critical issues in many countries including lack of private spaces for washing and changing which compromises their privacy, dignity, and safety.

The UN bodies said universal access to safely managed drinking water, sanitation and basic hygiene services is a fundamental human right, maintaining that securing access for all would go a long way to reduce illness and death, especially among children.

“Every step a girl takes to collect water is a step away from learning, play, and safety,” said Cecilia Sharp, UNICEF Director of WASH and CEED.

“Unsafe water, toilets, and handwashing at home rob girls of their potential, compromise their well-being and perpetuate cycles of poverty. Responding to girls’ needs in the design and implementation of WASH programmes is critical to reaching universal access to water and sanitation and achieving gender equality and empowerment,” she added.

According to the report, 1.8 billion people globally live in households without water supplies on their premises.

The report has it that girls under 15 (7%) are also more likely than boys under 15 (4%) to fetch water and make longer journeys to collect it, thus, losing time in education, work, leisure, and putting themselves at risk of physical injury and dangers.

It further pointed out that over half a billion people still share sanitation facilities with other households.

A recent survey carried out in 22 countries showed that among households with shared toilets, women and girls are more likely than men to feel unsafe walking alone at night and face sexual harassment and other safety risks.

It noted that inadequate WASH services increase health risks for women and girls and limit their ability to safely and privately manage their periods.

“Among 51 countries with available data, women and adolescent girls in the poorest households and those with disabilities are the most likely to lack a private place to wash and change,” the survey stated.

The Director, Environment, Climate Change and Health Department, WHO, Dr Maria Neira, said, “The latest data from WHO shows a stark reality: 1.4 million lives are lost each year due to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene.

“Women and girls not only face WASH-related infectious diseases, like diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections, but also face additional health risks because they are vulnerable to harassment, violence, and injury when they have to go outside the home to haul water or just to use the toilet.”

The report further indicated that lack of access to hygiene also disproportionately affects women and girls.

“In many countries, women and girls are primarily responsible for domestic chores and caring for others – including cleaning, preparing food, and looking after the sick – which likely exposes them to diseases and other risks to their health without the protection of handwashing.

“Today, around 2.2 billion people – or one in four – still lack safely managed drinking water at home and 3.4 billion people – or two in five – do not have safely managed sanitation. Around 2 billion people – or one in four – cannot wash their hands with soap and water at home,” the report added.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

About Us

Feature Posts


@2024 – Health Reporters