Clean Water Critical to Achieve Global Health Goals

With the recent UN announcement that the world has met the Millennium Development Goal to cut in half the proportion of people living without access to safe drinking water, the United States today underlined how clean water is critical to achieving global health goals.

On her remarks in honor of World Water Day in DC, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said ensuring that everyone has the clean water they need to live and thrive has to be a high priority for all nations.

Ms. Clinton also stresses how water is clearly integral to many of US foreign policy goals.

A boy carries a bucket of clean water as he leaves the water distribution point in Cite L’Eternel, a poor neighbourhood of Port au Prince, where the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working to contain the cholera outbreak. UN Photo/UNICEF/Marco Dormino

When nearly 2 million people die each year from preventable waterborne disease, clean water is critical if we’re going to be talking about achieving our global health goals, Ms. Clinton noted.

“Something as simple as better access to water and sanitation can improve the quality of life and reduce the disease burden for billions of people.” -Ms. Clinton

When women and girls don’t have to spend 200 million hours a day, seeking water, maybe they can go to school, maybe they can have more opportunities to help bring income in to the family, she cited.

She highlighted that reliable access to water is essential for feeding the hungry, running the industries that promote jobs, generating the energy that fuels national growth, and certainly, it is central when we think about how climate change will affect future generations.

“Now, we are pursuing this not only because we care about it around the world; we care about it here at home.” -Ms. Clinton

The world has increasing problems in meeting its own needs in the Desert Southwest or managing floods in the East.

No country anywhere, no matter how developed, is immune to the challenges that world faces, Ms. Clinton noted.

The world is steadily across multiple fronts to make progress on our comprehensive complex water agenda.

On 2011, Ms. Clinton signed US government-wide agreement with the World Bank.

The agreement identified 30 activities where various U.S. agencies can work more closely with the World Bank and with each other to improve our individual efforts on water security.

USAID and NASA are working together using earth science and satellite technology to analyze water security and other water-related challenges in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, Ms. Clinton reported

She says the US government is working with the international community on the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership, which is designed to help countries where access to water remains a critical barrier to growth, to build political commitment and capacity to begin solving their own problems.

Recently, the USAID launched the WASH ” W-A-S-H ” the WASH for Life partnership with the Gates Foundation.

“It’s a very fitting acronym” Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, or WASH.” -Ms. Clinton

The project will identify, test, and scale up evidence-based approaches for delivering these services to people in some of the poorest regions of the world.

However, Ms. Clinton stresses that nearly 700 million people will lack access to safe drinking water in 2015.

And many countries still are not making enough progress reaching their most vulnerable populations, and those conditions will only deteriorate as populations grow and crowd into already overcrowded cities without adequate infrastructure, she added.

She notes that as the world’s population continues to grow, demand for water will go up, but the world’s freshwater supplies will not keep pace.

In DC, Ms. Clinton announced the launching a new public-private partnership to help answer that call for leadership and to expand the impact of America’s work on water.

She stresses that the U.S. Water Partnership exemplifies the unity of effort and expertise the world will need to address these challenges over the coming years, and it advances states’ work in three critical ways.

She says it is a public-private venture, the U.S. Water Partnership will not depend on any one government agency or any one private organization to keep it going.

The Water Partnership has built-in flexibility to address the world’s changing water needs and to continue our work to find sustainable solutions, Ms. Clinton noted

“We believe this will help map out our route to a more water secure world: a world where no one dies from water-related diseases; where water does not impede social or economic development; and where no war is ever fought over water.” -Ms. Clinton

Between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells, according to a joint report by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

Halving the number of people without access to clean drinking water is one of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Other MDG goals include ending extreme poverty, reducing child and maternal mortality rates, fighting diseases and establishing a global partnership for development.

The good news is that open defecation – the riskiest sanitation practice of all – is on the decline worldwide, with a global decrease from 25 percent in 1990 to 17 per cent in 2008, representing a decrease of 168 million people practicing open defecation since 1990.

Reports say unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene claim the lives of an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five each year. Lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene affects the health, security, livelihood and quality of life for children, impacting women and girls first and most.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.