Weak government systems and a lack of resources are jeopardising water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in the world’s poorest countries.
This is the message in a new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UN-Water, which surveyed 115 countries and territories about their approaches to WASH.
The 2019 UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS) report assessed the countries’ performance against Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Clean water and sanitation for all, looking at governance, monitoring, human resources and finance.
It found that while 94% of the countries surveyed had policies in place to ensure access to adequate drinking water and sanitation, less than 15% had the money and human resources needed to implement them.
WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanmon Ghebreyesus said too many people lacked access to basic sanitation, putting them at risk of infection and threatening progress on public health.
“Water and sanitation systems don’t just improve health and save lives, they are a critical part of building more stable, secure and prosperous societies,” Ghebreyesus said.
“We call on countries that lack essential water and sanitation infrastructure to allocate funds and human resources to build and maintain it.”
The report did show countries are taking positive steps to achieve SDG 6 as the 2030 deadline grows near, but found a dramatic increase in performance will be required to achieve the targets.
This includes in Botswana, where the government took action after realising access to sanitation services in the country was lagging compared to progress on delivering clean water.
“The Sustainable Development Goals have inspired us to take concrete actions at the national level to increase access to sanitation,” Principal Water Engineer at Botswana’s Ministry of Land Management Water and Sanitation Services David Molefha said.
“We have developed a sanitation roadmap and we are working to eliminate open defecation. With these actions, we are working to improve people’s lives.”
Read the GLAAS report here.