As officials from various countries travel to Addis Ababa for the UN International Financing for Development (FFD) Conference, WaterAid India has called upon them to keep their commitments to prioritise access to water, sanitation and good hygiene in national budgets, so that no one is left behind.
The Addis conference will determine how countries around the world finance ambitious new goals to eradicate extreme poverty and create a more sustainable world. The new UN Sustainable Development Goals are to be finalised in New York this September.
Access to water and sanitation will play a key role in helping to achieve these new goals. A new WaterAid report, ‘Essential Element’, has identified 45 high-priority countries which have been left behind in financing for water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. These countries – many of them post-conflict and fragile – will not be able to reach everyone with water and sanitation without targeted overseas aid and strong political leadership that prioritises the issue.
In India, more than 50% of people lack access to basic sanitation and about 10% lack access to safe water with those having water, the issue of quality and sustainability remain areas of great concern.
Without access to safe water and toilets it is extremely difficult for people to escape poverty. More than 660 million people around the world are still without access to clean water and nearly 2.4 billion remain without a basic toilet, creating a health crisis which kills 500,000 children under five each year.
WaterAid India Campaign Manager, Mamata Dash said:
“This conference is held at a crucial time when the Post 2015 SDG framework is being finalised. The conference carries huge possibilities to influence the discourse in terms of financing for people in the margins. The draft FFD 3 conference has set the ambition very high and we hope that it will continue to remain there to ensure that no one is left behind. There is an urgent need to ensure financing for people-centric solutions to the crisis of water, sanitation and hygiene.
We call upon the member states attending FFD 3 conference to inform its decision on financing for development from the lens of justice and equity along with poverty. With more than half of India’s population defecating in the open and more than 2 million people engaged in manual scavenging, India stands to gain from a progressive and people-centric financing for a developmental framework.”
In each of the 45 high-priority countries identified by WaterAid, half or more of the population do not have a basic, safe place to relieve themselves.
As a result their citizens are at high risk of contracting waterborne diseases as well as pandemic illnesses that spread in the absence of good sanitation and hygiene practices, as seen in the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa.