WaterAid calls for the inclusion of hygiene indicator in Global Goals

Discussion of how the Global Goals will be achieved started on 26th October as experts from around the world convened in Thailand to decide on how progress will be measured to ensure that no-one is missed out of the Goals which have at their heart the permanent eradication of extreme poverty.

The second meeting of the Inter-Agency Expert Group (IAEG) on Sustainable Development Goals is discussing the indicators for the targets set in the Global Goals. Technical experts, representatives from various countries and civil society members are attending the two day meeting to decide the best indicators to measure progress against each of the targets that were not already established.

On 25 September 2015, the historic 2030 agenda was agreed on and 17 Global Goals were adopted by 193 UN member-states. The inclusion of Global Goal 6 to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is a victory for more than 650 million people in the world today without access to clean water and 2.3 billion people without access to safe, private toilets.

WaterAid commends this global commitment and is calling for the following changes:

  • Hygiene is mentioned in target 6.2 however it has not been included as a suggested indicator. We strongly recommend the inclusion of an indicator to measure hygiene
  • To ensure adequate and equitable access to water and sanitation, indicators 6.1.1 and 6.2.1 should explicitly mention specific disaggregation by service level and location, as universal access to basic services within and beyond the home is a necessary condition of achieving universal safely managed services
  • Indicator 6.1.2 should be reworded to reflect WASH sector consensus that the best way to incorporate the time women spend collecting water is to monitor access to ‘basic services’ which is defined as an ‘improved’ facility within 30 minute round trip
  • It is impossible to achieve “Global Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” if healthcare facilities and households do not use safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services. Tracer interventions must include access to water, sanitation and hygiene at home and in health centers

Avinash Kumar, Director – Policy & Programmes at WaterAid India said:

“While the MDGs recognized the primacy of a healthy and educated life, one of the key elements missing was the crucial role availability of clean drinking water and safe sanitation services play in this context. The SDGs cover a vast range of issues including, extreme poverty, gender, health, education, employment, hunger and environmental sustainability and cover all the countries in the world.

The media, civil society organisations and communities will need to come together and support the government. Only then can we ensure that our government will work for the effective implementation and monitoring of all the 17 goals and not cherry pick what suits them.”

Margaret Batty, Director of Global Policy and Campaigns, WaterAid said:

“The adoption of the Global Goals was such an exciting moment for all of us working towards a world when everyone everywhere has access to clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene.

Now we know the hard work of turning these well-meaning words into action begins. These current discussions around how we will make sure that progress towards the goals stays on track are vital. As it stands there is cause for concern, not least a missing indicator to measure hygiene which risks undermining the ambition of Agenda 2030 that ‘no one is left behind’.

Adopting the right indicators will ensure that our vision of universal access is able to make the transition from conference halls to action on the ground which changes peoples’ lives.”

In India, 5.9 per cent of households do not have access to clean water and 44 per cent of the total population still defecate in the open. As a result, over 140,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

Women and girls have to bear the greatest burden of water collection. Moreover, sometimes they don’t have access to any kind of toilet. Many girls opt to drop out of school due to the lack of proper toilet facilities. By improving women’s and girls’ access to toilets, we can keep girls in school, keep women productive members of society, and increase their safety and dignity.

With Goal 6, the aim of universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene now has the much deserved recognition and its prioritisation is needed to improve the lives of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Now is the time to make sure this ambition is realised. The Inter-Agency Expert Group must seize the opportunity ensuring that the vision of the Global Goals is not undermined.

Toilet Facts

44 per cent of the total population in India still defecate in the open.

Open defecation causes chronic diarrhoea that leads to stunting.