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Top international development experts and government finance ministers from nearly 50 developing countries endorsed today a set of commitments designed to speed up access for the 2.5 billion people lacking improved sanitation and the 748 million people without improved drinking water.
Some 1,400 children die each day from preventable diarrhoeal diseases linked to a lack of safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene, and countries lose out on billions of dollars of economic growth. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of women and girls, disabled persons, pastoralists and other poor and marginalized communities are disproportionally affected without services.
The issues grabbed the attention of officials meeting in Washington on Friday, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim and SWA Chair John Kufuor. At the third biennial Sanitation and Water For All (SWA) High-Level Meeting, they noted the vast health, economic, social and environmental consequences of poor water, sanitation and hygiene, and called their meeting an important step forward.
“At the beginning of this meeting, I challenged the ministers in this room to make concrete and practical commitments,” said Kufuor, the former president of Ghana. “I am now more confident than ever, that our name – Sanitation and Water for All – will become our achievement.”
The SWA partnership is a global coalition of 90 developing country governments, donors, civil society organizations and other partners. It aims to catalyse political leadership and action, improve accountability and use scarce resources more effectively.
The meeting yielded 265 new commitments from 44 countries. Broadly speaking, the commitments aim to improve the use of financial resources and reduce inequality in access, build capacity of institutions charged with delivering water and sanitation services, and coordinate resources more effectively, both from governments and overseas development assistance.
The High Level Meeting came one day after a preparatory session at the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). That meeting brought government water, sanitation and health ministers together with representatives of donor countries, multi-lateral bodies and civil society organisations to review progress against their 2012 commitments and formulate the new promises.
For more information, visit www.sanitationandwaterforall.org.