|Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Lenny Kravitz delivers a public service announcement about increasing access to safe drinking water. "Let's make it right," he says.|
By Rebecca Zerzan
NEW YORK, USA, 6 March 2012 – The world has met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, well ahead of the MDG 2015 deadline.
This is the key message in a report issued today by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), ‘Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, 2012 Update’. The report reveals that, at the end of 2010, 89 per cent of the world’s population used improved drinking water sources, meeting the target. By 2015, an estimated 92 per cent of the global population will have access to improved drinking water.
“Today, we recognize a great achievement for the people of the world,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “This is one of the first MDG targets to be met. The successful efforts to provide greater access to drinking water are a testament to all who see the MDGs not as a dream but as a vital tool for improving the lives of millions of the poorest people.”
|The world has met the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water.|
“For children this is especially good news,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Every day, more than 3,000 children die from diarrhoeal diseases. Achieving this goal will go a long way to saving children’s lives.”
But Mr. Lake cautioned that over 780 million people still lack access to safe drinking water. “The numbers are still staggering,” he said. “But the progress announced today is proof that MDG targets can be met with the will, the effort and the funds.”
Lenny Kravitz joins efforts
Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Lenny Kravitz is throwing his support behind these efforts. He is participating in several UNICEF public service announcements raising awareness of the importance of clean water and adequate sanitation, and will help spread these messages over Facebook and Twitter.
|Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Lenny Kravitz lends his voice to support UNICEF's work in advocating for every child's right to access clean water and adequate sanitation. Watch in RealPlayer|
“Water is the essence of life. It all begins with water. And at the very least, everybody in the world should have access to clean water. To be able to drink, to be able to clean themselves, have proper hygiene,” Mr. Kravitz said of his support for the campaign. “But I can use the platform that I have to bring this information to people, to make them aware.”
His support will help UNICEF mark World Water Day on 22 March, a day that focuses attention on the importance of freshwater to sustainable development.
“No child should die of diarrhoea from drinking dirty water,” Mr. Kravitz said. “That thousands of children under the age of 5 continue to die every day because they lack clean water and basic sanitation is simply unacceptable.”
Serious challenges remain
Lack of safe water both reflects global inequalities and engenders to them. Forty per cent of all people without improved drinking water live in sub-Saharan Africa, and in countries around the world, it is the poorest who lag behind. In places without safe water, girls and women bear a disproportionate burden; they are often tasked with carrying water from distant sources, a chore that can keep them from school or work.
|A girl pumps water in Turkana District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya. Around her, others wait their turn.|
The WHO/UNICEF joint report further indicates that world is far from meeting the MDG target for sanitation – and is unlikely to do so by 2015. Only 63 per cent of the global population has improved sanitation, far short of the 75 per cent target.
“We have reached an important target, but we cannot stop here,” Secretary-General Ban said. “Our next step must be to target the most difficult to reach, the poorest and the most disadvantaged people across the world. The United Nations General Assembly has recognized drinking water and sanitation as human rights. That means we must ensure that every person has access.”
Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012
Download the full report