World Meets Drinking Water Target but Progress on Sanitation Falls Short

Mar 06, 2012, 03:30 ET from WaterAid

NEW YORK, March 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- WaterAid welcomes the news that the world has met its goal to halve the proportion of people without safe drinking water by 2015.  The international non-profit organization has called for a renewed effort to reach the 780 million people still waiting for water.

New figures from the WHO / UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program Report 2012 ( were released today and reveal that between 1990 and 2010 over two billion people were provided with an improved water source. This is one of the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets to be met since they were set twelve years ago.

However, nearly four in ten people (39%) in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to safe water and may have to wait decades for this essential service. This highlights that inequality in access to safe drinking water remains a challenge; the global community must recommit to sustainable and equitable approaches.

David Winder, CEO of WaterAid, America, said, "Reaching the MDG water target is cause for celebration.  However, there is no room for complacency: nearly 800 million of the world's poorest people still live without this basic human need. With a renewed commitment, we could reach everyone in the world with clean water in just a generation. The world's poorest communities deserve a concerted effort."

While the water target has been met, the sister MDG target for halving the proportion of people without safe sanitation – which is even more crucial in tackling killer diseases in developing countries – is one of the most off-track of all the MDG targets, sadly. Globally it is predicted that it won't be reached until 2026.  In the sub-Saharan Africa region it will take over two centuries for the region to reach this MDG.  Currently 2.5 billion people live without adequate sanitation, a staggering 37% of the world's population.

Dr. Winder continued, "With diarrheal diseases caused by inadequate sanitation now the biggest killer of children in Africa, progress on sanitation has to improve in order to save millions of young lives. This is an achievable goal and one that should see everyone redoubling their efforts."

Notes to Editors
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