Developing countries, partners renew WASH pledges

Up to 44 developing countries and their partners committed on Friday to accelerate efforts to provide basic sanitation to 2.5 billion people and clean drinking water for 750 million across the globe.

At the Sanitation and Water for All high-level meeting in Washington, D.C., participants renewed their promise to work toward universal access to clean water and toilets by 2030, as well as eliminate open defecation. The pledges include over 260 concrete actions to strengthen institutions, improve planning, and increase domestic spending and donor investment in water and sanitation.

WashIn particular, U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening highlighted that the United Kingdom is on track to meet its previous commitment to provide 60 million people with WASH education by December 2015, and in line with the country’s new law that requires gender issues to be observed in all ODA programs, the donor will focus partnerships on reaching girls and women, sustainable investment and improving development effectiveness.

International nonprofit WaterAid welcomed these and other efforts to make progress on WASH goals, something which will especially benefit children.

“A child dies every minute from this global health crisis, and all it takes to save those lives is safe water, improved toilets and proper handwashing with soap. Billions of lives can be transformed into healthier, more prosperous ones with these pledges,” WaterAid CEO Barbara Frost said in a statement.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the meeting with warnings that the crisis in water and sanitation will hold back efforts to eradicate poverty.

According to new data released last week by the WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program on Water Supply and Sanitation, about 748 million people around the world still lack access to safe drinking water, and half of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Some 2.5 billion people are without proper sanitation — a figure that has remained practically unchanged for a decade.

UNICEF Executive DirectorAnthonyLake hopes children will benefit from Friday’s commitments.

“The poorest children have the least access to safe water and adequate sanitation and they pay the highest price — so they have the most to gain from these new commitments, as do their communities,” Lake said in a statement. “The commitments made here today will help meet the right of millions of children to safe water and sanitation. This can literally transform their lives and their communities.”