Monday, August 30, 2004

UN Report: World Meeting Goals On Safe Drinking Water But Falling Behind On Sanitation

Source: World Bank

Countries are improving access to clean drinking water but falling behind on sanitation goals fixed at a summit four years ago, The Associated Press reports the United Nations said Thursday.

About 2.4 billion people will likely face the risk of needless disease and death by the target date of 2015 because of bad sanitation, the World Health Organization and UNICEF said in a joint report. Most countries appear on track to cut by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water, but that still will leave 800 million people -- mainly in sub-Saharan Africa -- with polluted supplies, the agencies said. Bad sanitation -- decaying or nonexistent sewage systems and toilets -- fuels the spread of disease like cholera and basic illness like diarrhea, which kills a child every 21 seconds. Around 2.6 billion people currently lack access to basic sanitation; 1 billion use unsafe drinking water. Taking population growth into account, by 2015 the figures will likely stand at 2.4 billion and 800 million, with the latter number considered a successful meeting of the target, the UN agencies said.