April 17, 2012, 10:40 pm
By Ifham Nizam
South Asia could save more than 84,000 children’s lives by meeting its 2015 sanitation target, a regional advocacy manager said.
Mustafa Talpur, Regional Advocacy Manager of WaterAid, South Asia said that their latest findings would be presented at a meeting to be held in Washington DC on Friday, where more than 100 ministers from 50 countries, including Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena will be in attendance.
He told The Island that though Sri Lanka had an excellent record in the region, it too needed to work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal. According to Talpur, participating governments had to bring pledges to the table on increasing access to water and sanitation for the next two years; donor governments also had to provide commitments ahead of the meeting.
He said that if the countries in South Asia were to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on sanitation by 2015, to halve the proportion of people without safe sanitation it could save the lives of 84,391, according to a new report released yesterday by the international aid agency WaterAid.
The report, ‘Saving Lives’, reveals that most of the South Asian countries are among the 57 countries currently most off-track to meet its MDG sanitation target to halve the proportion of people without access to adequate sanitation.
The report notes that going by the current trends India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan are due to halve the number of people lacking sanitation services in year 2041, 2033, 2026 and 2025 respectively- These countries will be missing the MDG sanitation targets by 26, 18, 11 and 10 years.
According to the latest figures released by UNICEF and the WHO, over a billion people in South Asia do not use improved sanitation facilities and the region has the highest proportion of people still practicing open defecation, 67 per cent (690 million). “By meeting the Millennium Development Goal target on sanitation by 2015, we can save the lives of over 84,000 children in South Asia. We need to do more to save these lives,” Talpur added.
The WaterAid report also says that the lives of 2.5 million people around the world would be saved if everyone had access to safe water and adequate sanitation.