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Africa and Asia are among the areas most adversely affected by water and sanitation problems
Africa and Asia are among the areas most adversely affected by water and sanitation problems

Most nations fall well short of safe drinking water targets, Zuma reports


By Bongani Mthethwa - Mar 22nd 2017, 15:21

Only 147 countries have met the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals' drinking water targets - and only 95 have met the sanitation target while 77 have met both. 

The shocking statistics were revealed by President Jacob Zuma during his official address at the World Water Day Summit and Expo at the Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on Wednesday.

The three-day conference also saw the launch of the 2017 United Nations World Water Development Report titled “Wastewater: The Untapped Resource”‚ which was handed over to Zuma.

Zuma‚ who sits on the UN’s World Water Assessment Programme’s High-Level Panel on Water‚ told delegates that the bleak global picture presented in the report requires world leaders to urgently prioritise the improvement of access to essential water and sanitation services.

“Thus far‚ 147 countries have met the SDG drinking water target. Ninety-five countries have met the sanitation target and only 77 countries have met both‚” said Zuma.

He said these statistics‚ do not do “justice in conveying the development and health challenges faced by so many people‚ or in contextualising how unevenly these basic services are distributed around the world and within societies”.

Zuma said it seemed little had changed since 2011 when it was reported that nearly 60% of the world’s one billion extremely poor people lived in just five countries.

“Looking ahead‚ this unacceptable situation will only get worse‚ unless we join forces around the world to create equal chances for success at all levels in our race against time to secure the most precious resource of freshwater‚ for current and future generations‚” he said.

Zuma said Africa and Asia‚ where the largest increase in population is expected to happen‚ were already among the most adversely affected by water and sanitation problems.

“Whilst vividly presenting the distressing situation the international community currently finds itself in with regard to water and sanitation‚ the report and its call for action also sends a message of hope‚” said Zuma.

He cited the 2015 East London Gender Declaration that guides the regional sector decisions on water and women‚ as led by the Women for Water Partnership Network as one of the strategic interventions.

Highlighting the role played by Africans in making access to water and sanitation a basic right‚ Zuma said South Africa has enshrined the basic right of all to sufficient food and water in her Constitution.

But‚ he said‚ much more still needed to be done to “fulfill this right‚ both here in South Africa and across the world‚ reinforcing the enduring relevance of our South African saying that ‘Water is Life‚ Sanitation is Dignity’.”

The conference‚ which ends on Friday‚ will also see the unveiling of the initiative of the UN/World Bank High Level Panel on Water on “Access to water and sanitation for 10 billion people” and the adoption of the South African political declaration on World Water Day 2017. © 2017 Times Media Group. All rights reserved 

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