Lack of resources threatens water and sanitation supplies in developing countries – UN

Photo: Millennium Promise Images

12 April 2012 – Despite improvements in access to water, sanitation and hygiene, the coverage of these services could fall behind if adequate resources are not secured, the United Nations inter-agency group focused on water issues warned in a report released today.

The report, released by UN-Water and the World Health Organization (WHO), provides data for 74 developing countries, and stresses that these nations have a chronic lack of technicians and staff in place to operate and maintain sanitation and drinking water infrastructure. It calls for additional and more targeted resources to maintain routine operations of existing systems and services.

“One in three countries highlighted that revenues are insufficient to cover operating costs for urban utilities,” the report reads, adding that only 7 per cent of external support is directed at maintaining services. “All these factors put sustainability of water and sanitation systems at risk in many countries.”

The report, entitled “Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water,” says that even though many countries have made financial commitments to sanitation and water since 2010, many are falling short on meeting them.

Some 83 per cent and 70 per cent of countries are reportedly falling significantly behind the trends required to meet their national targets for access to sanitation and drinking water, respectively.

“The major gains that have been made urgently need consolidation through investment in water services, coupled with a strengthening of financial and human resources to ensure further progress in the provision of safe drinking water and basic sanitation,” said WHO’s Director for Public Health and Environment, Maria Neira.

“Ultimately, this report is about optimizing the instruments we have to ensure primary prevention of a global killer, diarrhoeal diseases, across all sectors contributing to water and sanitation progress,” she added.


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