Deputy U.N. Chief Urges More Action on Sanitation Crisis
Many of us take clean drinking water for granted
because it just comes out of our faucets. It's easy to overlook how difficult it
is for millions of people in developing countries to get clean water and
adequate sanitation facilities. But U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson
is trying to keep the issue in the forefront, calling
for renewed action to tackle the problem of inadequate sanitation around the
world following the recent U.N. World Water Day.
A Call to Action
More than 783 million
people — more than twice the population of the United States — lack
access to improved water supplies, and millions more are forced to drink
unclean or unsafe water in order to survive.
progress has been made toward achieving the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals
(MDG) of improving sanitation conditions around the world, the U.N.'s current
objectives are likely to be missed by a significant margin, as 2.5 billion
people lack access to improved sanitation facilities. More than 1 billion people
lack any kind of toilets, a situation that causes widespread exposure to
diseases carried by human waste.
that dealing with sanitation problems can be a touchy subject, but he added that
continued discussion and action is vital to improving the lives of millions of
people across the globe.
"Let's face it — this is
a problem that people do not like to talk about," said Eliasson. "But it goes to
the heart of ensuring good health, a clean environment and fundamental human
dignity for billions of people — and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
With just over a thousand days for action before the 2015 MDG deadline, we have
a unique window of opportunity to deliver a generational change."
When dealing with a
problem of this magnitude, it can be difficult to truly grasp the scale and
urgency of the situation. To put matters into perspective, the world has 7
billion people and 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions, according to the U.N.
In comparison, only 4.5 billion people have access to adequate sanitation
facilities. Insufficient sanitation and access to clean drinking water are
perhaps the most urgent health problems facing the world today, as these factors
contribute substantially to the spread of preventable diseases and children's
health in developing nations.
than 24,000 children die every day from diarrhea and other easily treatable
and preventable illnesses caused by poor sanitation. Even children who do not
die from consuming unclean water are at substantially higher risk of developing
complications due to malnutrition, which
causes an additional 3.5 million child deaths every year.
ChildFund recognizes the
importance of clean water and reliable sanitation in early childhood
development. For this reason, we work in some of the poorest countries in the
world to ensure children have clean water, from Senegal to Sri Lanka. Our Water
Watchers initiative in Brazil has benefited more than 7,000, and our
programs in Ethiopia have provided improved sanitation and drinking water for
more than 8,000 people. Despite these success stories, there is still much work
To help ChildFund make a
difference in the lives of communities around the world, please consider making
a donation to our Essentials
for Survival fund. Alternatively, sponsoring
a child is an excellent way to invest in the future of vulnerable children
in developing countries and offer them the hope of a healthy and happy