We have met the target for access to safe drinking water... but who did we help?
The UN announced today that the international target to halve the number of people who do not have access to safe drinking water has been met.
It is undoubtedly a great thing that 2 billion people now have access to water. According to the World Health Organisation and Unicef joint monitoring programme, 89% of the population now have access to clean water, which is 1% more than the target.
Well this just sounds lovely, and such good news. But scratch a little beneath the surface and there are some worrying facts.
738 million people are without water.
39% of people in sub Saharan Africa are without water.
So now I’m thinking (and I hope you are) thinking – what exactly was the target? And why are so many people still without water?
Not only are these people without water but they happen to be some of the poorest people in the world. Which makes me question how these targets are set.... but more of that later.
The report also has a few discrepancies; the report could not look at quality, reliability of the water, supply or whether it was sustainable (due to resources). As a result it is likely that ‘the number using safe water supplies has been overestimated.’
The surge in people drinking safe water is also down to emerging economic powers. Almost half of the 2 billion people who have gained access to drinking water live in China or Asia. There are also stark differences between urban and rural areas. Most African countries will not reach the target – says The Guardian.
This seems to suggest that whilst the news today is brilliant, and the MDGs are a good reminder of what needs achieving; there are flaws. Its seems the target has been reached because of emerging economic powers; those in real desperate need are still without. The goals have also helped those who are easier to help geographically. It seems that the targets have an issue with equity and inequality.
We’ve discovered there are a lot of people without water. Well, there are even more without sanitation. In fact Wateraid has estimated that 2.6 BILLION people do not have access to sanitation. Sanitation to you and I means, they have no loo, no sink, no soap; nowhere to crap.
Crap is the real problem here that stuff; it kills more children in Africa than any other disease. It’s the second largest killer in Asia. Diarrhoea is bad for children, and it spreads fast without proper sanitation. Whilst the target for water may be met, the target for sanitation has not been met.
Today’s announcement is good news. I think we are all happy that more people have access to safe water. Yet we cannot become complacent. There are still too many people without water and sanitation. We need to make sure that the pressure is still on, and we focus our attention on those hardest to reach.