UN secretary-general says water, sanitation key to MDGs

13:25, September 23, 2010      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that water and sanitation are critical to attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline.

"Without water, there is no life," Ban said during a meeting on water and sanitation on the sidelines of a high-level UN conference on MDGs.

Noting that the world is "on track to meet the target for water," Ban said that "all reports indicate that the MDGs target for sanitation is far off track."

"We must urgently work toward a world in which every person has access to clean, safe water every day," Ban said. "Everyone should have the access to water and sanitation services that we in this room take for granted."

The MDGs aim to halve the proportion of people living without basic sanitation. A report released by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) showed that 2.6 billion people across the world currently do not have access to basic sanitation. Of those people, 1.1 billion have no sanitation facilities at all.

Water scarcity, degrading water quality and lack of access to both adequate sanitation and clean drinking water increases disease, undermines economic growth, limits food production and threatens peace and security, according to UNICEF reports.

Each U.S. dollar invested in sanitation generates an economic return of up to nine dollars, according to a UN Development Program report.

"We need to target our aid flows more to low-income countries where most people live without access to water and sanitation. And national governments need to make water and sanitation a priority in the national budget allocation process," Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at the meeting.

The UN General Assembly in late July adopted a resolution on the right to water and sanitation, declaring that safe, clean drinking water and sanitation are a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other rights.

Source: Xinhua


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