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To Address Malnutrition, Improve Global Access To Clean Water, Sanitation

“There have been so many attempts to fix the water quality crisis, the public seems to have grown tired of it, and its impacts — especially malnutrition — have been swept under the proverbial rug,” Amanda Sperber, a communications fellow at mWater, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Water” blog. “This means that when major international bodies discuss next steps in improving access to clean water, the socio-political implications that should be blazingly obvious also end up under the rug,” she states. “Malnutrition, a problem with a direct connection to water and sanitation, is one that’s completely solvable with the right technology,” she notes, adding, “Even more impactful than food shocks, the leading cause of malnutrition is diarrheal disease, which is brought about by a lack of access to safe water and sanitation.” She writes, “The solution to solving this crisis should be obvious — reduce exposure to unsafe water and increase opportunities for sanitary behaviors.”

“U.N. agencies and national stakeholders are currently debating the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs], the next global agenda for aid and development that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] in 2015,” Sperber continues, adding, “Under current debate is how water and sanitation should be measured, with some advocating that the western countries’ quality thresholds should be lowered in the global south to meet measurements of feasibility.” She states, “It’s also to say that there’s pressure for the SDGs related to water to succeed more than those of the MDGs, and a lower water sanitation requirement makes this easier to achieve.” She adds, “At this point, to frame malnutrition as a humanitarian issue, and to not acknowledge the socio-political and technological implications that cause it, is extremely short-sighted and totally unproductive” (8/14).