By Edmund Smith-Asante
International development organisation, WaterAid, has urged member countries of the United Nations (UN), to ensure that they deliver on the new global goals, the sustainable development goals (SDGs), especially goal six and leave no one behind.
Global goal six of the 17 SDGs, which replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September, commits countries to deliver basic access to water, sanitation and hygiene to everyone everywhere by 2030.
WaterAid has, therefore, specifically called on governments to implement the new global goal on water, sanitation and hygiene to ensure everyone everywhere has these essentials by 2030; ensure that there are clear targets and indicators to monitor progress in homes, schools and healthcare facilities and also ensure that donor countries meet their commitments on foreign aid and give more priority to water, sanitation and hygiene programming.
UN member countries have also been asked to ensure that developing countries prioritise water, sanitation and hygiene programmes at home and to find new and effective ways to mobilise domestic resources, as well as work towards an end to aid dependency by ensuring governments deliver and sustain water, sanitation and hygiene services as part of national plans.
Commenting on the goal, Madam Mariame Dem, the Head of Region of WaterAid West Africa, said “the inclusion of this goal is a victory for more than 650 million people in the world today without access to clean water and nearly 2.4 billion people without access to safe, private toilets.”
She noted that although the goal was achievable, it required political will and financing. “By delivering these essential services, the lives of hundreds of millions of people will be transformed, and it is possible with the right political commitment, innovative thinking and new sources of funding.”
Madam Dem added that “this is a moment of transformation for our world – a chance to change the course of history and reach those who are the poorest and most vulnerable in our world, so that they can reach their potential.
“Water, sanitation and hygiene are fundamental– no society ever truly achieved modernity and prosperity while its people were forced to relieve themselves in bushes or walk miles to collect dirty water for their families.”
Sharing her remarks on SDG goal six, the Country Representative of WaterAid Ghana, Dr Afia Zakiya said, “This is our chance to change the course of history and reach those who are poorest and most vulnerable. Water, sanitation and hygiene are fundamental to development.”
Developed world fails low-income countries
Meanwhile, a recent report by WaterAid, “Essential Element”, has stated that 45 low-income countries have been failed by the developed world through chronic underfunding of water, sanitation and hygiene services, and will not meet the UN goal without new political and financial prioritisation.
In each of the countries which include Ghana, half or more of the population do not have a basic, safe place to relieve themselves, polluting their water supply and environment and leaving people at high risk of illness.
In Ghana, 11.3 per cent of households do not have access to clean water and 85.1 per cent do not have access to improved sanitation.
WaterAid maintains that the crises compromises the ability of children to attend school and adults to engage in income-generating work, adding that it affects women and girls most who are often tasked with collecting water. They are often at a higher risk of illness or infection in the absence of safe water, basic toilets and good hygiene, and are made more vulnerable to attack if they must relieve themselves in the open.
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This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on October 2, 2015