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IPS Examines Water, Sanitation MDG Targets

Inter Press Service looks at the U.N. Human Rights Council’s (HRC) endorsement of “water and sanitation as a basic human right” last week, and the “reality” that “water and sanitation have remained two of the most neglected sub-texts of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which came under scrutiny at the MDG summit“ in September.

“While most developing nations have made limited progress in providing clean water, the targets for sanitation remain virtually unreachable,” IPS writes. U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said, “[i]f current trends continue unchanged, the international community will miss the 2015 sanitation MDG target by almost one billion people.” Jon Lane, executive director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), said a main reason for missing targets on sanitation is that political leaders “have not grasped the fundamental role that good sanitation plays for people’s health, dignity, economic well-being and local environment.”

The article also quotes Jamie Bartram of the University of North Carolina who said the MDG targets are “wildly under-ambitious” because sanitation improvements are needed in schools, workplaces and markets, not just households. Bartram also said the HRC outcome document “is good, and an improvement over the past.” The article also looks at efforts to raise the profile of sanitation its relationship to health outcomes: “We could prevent around 10 percent of the burden of disease worldwide simply by managing water sanitation and hygiene to achievable and recognised good practices,” Bartram said (Deen, 10/7).

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