High level meeting sets course towards Water and Sanitation for All
40 developing countries aim for swifter progress on meeting basic needs
WASHINGTON DC, April 19, 2012 –- Ahead of the World Bank’s Spring Meetings here this week, government ministers from almost 40 developing countries are meeting with UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, UK International Development Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell, Chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation HRH the Prince of Orange, and major donors and water and sanitation sector organizations, to discuss speeding up global access to water and sanitation.
The April 20 Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting brings together the SWA Partnership of donors and agencies with 69 ministers responsible for finance, sanitation and hygiene portfolios. The meeting is the second of its kind, and comes against the backdrop of an announcement in March from UNICEF and the World Health Organization that the world had met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for improved drinking water sources, but that many still lack safe water, and that the target for improved sanitation is lagging far behind and will not be met at current rates of progress.
“Forty years ago exactly, in a triumph of science, engineering, and technology, Apollo 16 landed on the moon. It was the fifth mission to do so,” Lake says, “yet today, 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation because they lack the most basic sanitation facilities.” He continues: “If, two generations ago, we landed men on the moon, we can and we must afford people here on earth their most basic needs.”
The High Level Meeting is moderated by Ambassdor Jan Eliasson, who has recently been named by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the United Nations’ fourth Deputy Secretary-General. Currently Chair of WaterAid Sweden, Eliasson is a member of the UN Secretary-General's Advocates Group for the Achievement of the MDGs. He notes that sanitation and hygiene are now being recognized as a cornerstone of development, security and well-being, and key to the welfare of the citizens of the world.
“The Ministers who meet today are mindful of the economic value of sanitation and water to developing economies, but also of the human value,” Eliasson says. “They have in mind the children who must be protected from illness, the boys and girls who must go to school, the women who must be freed from back-breaking labour. I know that the world is watching us – and I think those people are applauding.”
According to UNICEF, at least 2.5 billion cases of diarrhoea occur in children under five years of age every year, and an estimated 3,000 children die from it daily. The World Bank says huge savings in health care costs and gains in productive days can be realized by improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene and could amount to over 7% of gross domestic product, depending on the country. The economic gains to be made from investing in sanitation and water are estimated at US $170 billion per year. If everyone had access to adequate sanitation and water services, the world`s health sectors would save around $15 billion every year.
Organizers are hoping to build on the success of the first High Level Meeting in 2010, also convened by UNICEF at the World Bank, which led to increased focus and commitments from countries and donors. The 2012 meeting is greatly expanded, with almost 40 countries taking part, up from 18 in 2010. Of those present in 2010, nine countries have confirmed that they are meeting their commitments of increased budget allocations; and seven of the 13 donors present in 2010 have met or exceeded the targets they set for funding. Countries have also reported improved coordination and accountability among different institutions and almost half the donors have increased alignment with national planning processes.
Note to Editors
The SWA High Level Meeting will be webcast live at: http://tinyurl.com/6r3jdtp
For more information, contact:
Washington: Ms Amanda Marlin, Programme Manager, Advocacy and Communications, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), Mobile: +41 79 650 2629, Email: email@example.com
New York: Ms Rita Ann Wallace, Press Officer, UNICEF, Tel: +1 212 326 7586, Mobile: +1 917 213 4034, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org