According to a report released today by WHO, UNICEF, and the World Bank, governments must strategically invest in developing safe drinking water systems by not only increasing funding but also bolstering capacities to plan, coordinate, and regulate service provision. This is necessary if the world is to achieve universal access to safe drinking water and lessen the effects of climate change.
Over 2 billion people now have access to clean drinking water, according to the State of the World’s Drinking Water report.
Although encouraging, this progress is precarious and unfair because a quarter of the world’s population has been left behind. The frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, which exacerbate water insecurity, disrupt supplies and devastate communities.
Meanwhile rapid urbanization is increasing the strain on cities’ capacity to deliver water to the millions of people living in in-formal communities and slums.
Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health said , “Providing greater access to safe drinking water has saved many lives, most of them children. But climate change is eating into those achievements.”
“We have to accelerate our efforts to ensure every person has reliable access to safe drinking water something that is a human right, not a luxury.”
The report provides a comprehensive review of the links between water, health, and development, with actionable recommendations for governments and partners, illustrated by examples of how countries are contributing to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of reaching safely managed drinking water for all by 2030.
Saroj Kumar Jha, Director, Global Director, World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice said, “Investing in water and sanitation is critical to health, economic growth and the environment. Healthier children become healthier adults who then contribute more to the economy and society”
“This principle is at the core of the World Bank’s Human Capital Project.
Governments and private sector must take critical action now to accelerate inclusive and sustainable water supply and sanitation services in both urban and rural areas.”
To provide universal access to safe drinking water by 2030, governments and partners must dramatically increase political commitment to drinking water and quadruple investments.
The report provides comprehensive recommendations to enact sustainable improvements that addresses infrastructure, governance, finance, capacity development, data and information, and innovation, even with limited budgets.
Overarching recommendations include: Strengthen existing institutions by filling gaps, facilitating coordination, establishing a regulatory environment supported by legislation and standards for service quality, and ensuring enforcement; Increase funding from all sources dramatically, with water service providers improving efficiency and performance, and governments providing a stable and transparent administrative, regulatory and policy environment.
More so, Build capacity within the water sector by developing a capable and motivated workforce through a range of capacity-development approaches based on innovation and collaboration; Ensure relevant data and information are available to better understand inequalities in drinking water services and make evidence-based decisions; and Encourage innovation and experimentation through supportive government policy and regulation, accompanied by rigorous monitoring and evaluation.
Aidan Cronin, UNICEF Interim Director of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) and Climate, Environment, Energy, and Disaster Risk Reduction (CEED) said, “No child should be faced with the choice of drinking dirty water – a leading killer of children – or making dangerous journeys to collect water and missing out on school.”
“Accessible and reliable safe drinking water is fundamental to ensuring children are healthy, educated, and thriving.”