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Updated On: Monday, May 29 2017
Development Issues
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Springing into Action to Fund Ambitious Goals

Sanjay Wijesekera is Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, UNICEF

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 19 2017 (IPS) - “I don’t have enough money to buy clean water, so I have to come and collect it from the river.

I have young twins – a boy and a girl. I know the water is dirty – it often makes them sick but I have no other option.” Those are the words of a South Sudanese mother, Latif, who lives by the river Nile in Juba.

This week, finance ministers gathered at the IMF - World Bank Spring Meetings will discuss how to achieve the sustainable development goal of providing clean water and sanitation for all by 2030
Latif’s struggle for clean water is shared by billions of people around the world, in fact today almost two billion people will use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces  due to a lack of funds or access. Without safe water, Latif’s children risk joining the 1,400 children under the age of five who die from diarrhoea daily.

It doesn’t have to be this way. More and better managed resources can help provide water and sanitation access for all.

This week, finance ministers gathered at the IMF – World Bank Spring Meetings will discuss how to achieve the sustainable development goal of providing clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. In addition to providing access and basic infrastructure, developing countries are now urged to ensure that this access is efficient, equitable, universal and safely managed.  But how will it be financed?

Ministers will look at the magnitude of the financial challenge, how to use existing resources more efficiently, and how to access additional resources, focusing in particular on domestic sources – a mammoth task when we know that the price tag for meeting these ambitious goals is about $114 billion per year (excluding operating and maintenance costs).

Charity Ncube, 30, of the rural town of Masvingo in southeastern Zimbabwe, carries her child and a 20-litre container of water. Credit: Sally Nyakanyanga/IPS

UNICEF and its partners are working towards equipping and supporting governments and others to achieve the sustainable development goals. We believe that reaching the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged is more cost-effective and yields a higher return on investment.

And the evidence is backing us up. A 2013 study study showed that improving sanitation for the poorest households actually brings greater, more immediate health benefits for all.

Echoing Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, ‘When we reach the most disadvantaged people we dramatically improve an entire society’s health, education, equality and economic prospects over the long term.’

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