Opinion

UN SG for tackling sanitation problem

ISLAMABAD: UN Secretary General has said that this year, World Water Day coincides with the International Year of Sanitation, challenging us to spur action on a crisis affecting more than one out of three people on the planet. In a message ahead of World Water Day being observed on tomorrow (Saturday), he said every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of the abysmal sanitation conditions endured by some 2.6 billion people globally. That adds up to an unconscionable 1.5 million young lives cut short by a cause we know well how to prevent.

He said poor sanitation combines with a lack of safe drinking water and inadequate hygiene to contribute to the terrible global death toll. Those who survive face diminished chances of living a healthy and productive existence. Children, especially girls, are forced to stay out of school, while hygiene-related diseases keep adults from engaging in productive work.

He said leaders who adopted the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 envisioned halving the proportion of people living without access to basic sanitation by the year 2015 – but we are nowhere near on pace to achieve that goal. Experts predict that by 2015, 2.1 billion people will still lack basic sanitation. At the present rate, sub-Saharan Africa will not reach the target until 2076.

The UN secretary general said that while there have been advances, progress is hampered by population growth, widespread poverty, insufficient investments to address the problem and the biggest culprit: a lack of political will.

Ban Ki Moon said with the right resolve, there are many steps that members of the international community can take. The Commission Sustainable Development in 2005 outlined a series of measures aimed at securing meaningful progress, holding Governments of affected countries primarily responsible. It also called for international support through a conducive policy environment, financial resources and the transfer of technology to countries in need. If we take up the challenge, the positive impact will reverberate far beyond better access to clean water. Every dollar invested in water and sanitation yields an estimated seven dollars worth of productive activity. And that comes on top of the immeasurable gains in cutting poverty, improving health and raising living standards.

He said World Water Day offers a chance to spotlight these issues, but this year let us go beyond raising awareness – let us press for action to make a measurable difference in people’s lives.” March 22 is designated as World Water Day, by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/193 of 22 December 1992. The observance aims at promoting awareness of the extent to which water resource development contributes to economic productivity and social well-being.-SANA

About the author

Rubab Saleem

Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times

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