About 2.1 billion people lack access to safe, readily available water at home, and 4.5 billion, lack safely managed sanitation, a report by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF shows.
The Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report, Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and Sustainable Development Goal baselines, presents the first global assessment of “safely managed” drinking water and sanitation services. The overriding conclusion is that too many people still lack access, particularly in rural areas.
It concludes that too many people still lack access to portable water, particularly in rural areas.
Crisis affected areas worst hit
In countries experiencing conflict or unrest, children are 4 times less likely to use basic water services, and 2 times less likely to use basic sanitation services than children in other countries.
This is often as a result of overcrowded and poorly managed temporary accommodation in refuge camps and poor infrastructure and amenities in such communities.
The report also states there are big gaps in service between urban and rural areas.
Two out of three people with safely managed drinking water and three out of five people with safely managed sanitation services live in urban areas.
The WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “Safe water, sanitation and hygiene at home should not be a privilege of only those who are rich or live in urban centres.These are some of the most basic requirements for human health, and all countries have a responsibility to ensure that everyone can access them.”
Billions of people have gained access to basic drinking water and sanitation services since 2000, but these services do not necessarily provide safe water and sanitation.
The situation puts the health of all people – especially young children at risk of diseases, such as diarrhoea.
The report further noted that every year, 361 000 children under 5 years of age die from water related diseases.
Poor sanitation and contaminated water are also linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid.
“Safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene are critical to the health of every child and every community – and thus are essential to building stronger, healthier, and more equitable societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
“As we improve these services in the most disadvantaged communities and for the most disadvantaged children today, we give them a fairer chance at a better tomorrow”,he added.
End open defecation
In order to decrease global inequalities, the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for ending open defecation and achieving universal access to basic services by 2030.
Of the 2.1 billion people who do not have safely managed water, 844 million do not have a basic drinking water service.
In 90 countries, progress towards basic sanitation is too slow, meaning they will not reach universal coverage by 2030. And among the 4.5 billion people who do not have safely managed sanitation, 2.3 billion still do not have basic sanitation services.
Many Nigerians affected
Many Nigerians fall into one or both categories of those lacking access to safe, available water in their homes and safe sanitation.
Statistics from WaterAid Nigeria shows that 57 million people in the country do not have access to safe water, while two-thirds of the Nigerian population, or 130 million people, do not have access to adequate sanitation thereby causing the death of almost 60,000 children under the age of five from diarrhoea, a disease caused by poor sanitation and water.
Good hygiene is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of diseases.
According to the report, for the first time, the SDGs are monitoring the percentage of people who have facilities to wash their hands at home with soap and water.
Access to water and soap for hand washing varies immensely in the 70 countries with available data, from 15 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa to 76 per cent in western Asia and northern Africa.
Also, many countries lack data on the quality of water and sanitation services. The report includes estimates for 96 countries on safely managed drinking water and 84 countries on safely managed sanitation.