10 July 2020

Covid-19 dries up hopes of ending global water poverty by 2030, campaigners warn

By Jordan Kelly-Linden from The Telegraph

Access to safe water and sanitation is a basic human right but much of the world goes without CREDIT: KHALIL ASHAWI / Rueters

The United Nations’ sustainable development goal (SDG) of delivering safe water and sanitation for all by 2030 is worryingly off track, campaigners have warned.

Already more than 2.4 billion people do not have access to safe, readily available water at home, while a further 4.5 billion lack safely managed sanitation.

And the Covid-19 pandemic is only increasing water insecurity and stalling efforts to improve global hygiene standards just when access to safe water is needed most, they say.

“The 2020 Covid outbreak, along with recent cholera outbreaks in Yemen, Somalia, and the Ebola outbreaks that we witnessed in different countries in Africa are all painful reminders of the absolute importance of sanitation and hygiene,” James Wicken, Head of Global Policy Advocacy and Innovation at the global Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, told a panel of experts and journalists this week.

“At the moment, the SDG targets on sanitation will only be realised in the next century,” he warned.

Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (Wash) services go hand in hand with preventing disease outbreaks.

More than 297,000 children under five years die due to diarrhoea linked to inadequate Wash facilities every year. Poor sanitation and contaminated water are also linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.

However, the pandemic has stopped many community outreach programmes and diverted much needed resources and investment in utilities, especially in countries already struggling.


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