The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has set up a trust fund aimed at halving the number of people who do not have access to basic sanitation or clean water.
Launched yesterday as part of the worldwide observance of World Habitat Day, the “Water and Sanitation Trust Fund” is a key follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development held last month in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“The aim of the trust fund, which has an initial investment of $1 million, is to kick-start a plan of action to meet the targets set in the [UN] Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation concerned with water and sanitation,” said UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka. The target is to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people lacking access to basic sanitation or clean water.
Better sanitation services and clean water are “critical if the lives of the urban poor are to be improved,” Ms. Tibaijuka stressed. “Access to such life-saving basic needs is an important first step in the process of slum upgrading.”
According to the agency, the number of urban dwellers not receiving safe water reached an all-time high in 2000 of 118 million, an increase of 62 million since 1990. The situation with sanitation is much worse, with more than three times as many people denied even minimal sanitation facilities over the same time. Meanwhile, in many African cities up to half of the water is wasted through leakages or loss.