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UN identifies threats to potable water, sanitation in Nigeria, others

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The United Nations (UN) has identified weak political systems and dearth of resources as threats to the delivery of water and sanitation services in the world’s poorest countries, including Nigeria.A new report published yesterday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on behalf of UN-Water called for urgent increase in investment in strong drinking water and sanitation systems.

The call came as the international water sector meets in Stockholm for its annual conference during the World Water Week (August 25 to 30, 2019).
UN-Water Global Assessment and Analysis of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) 2019 report surveyed 115 countries and territories, representing 4.5 billion people. In most countries, the report revealed, the implementation of WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) policies was constrained by inadequate human and financial resources. Nineteen countries and one territory reported a funding gap of more than 60 per cent between identified needs and available funding. Less than 15 per cent of countries have the financial or human resources to implement their plans.

While funding gaps and weak systems are holding many countries back, the report also found that countries had begun to take positive steps towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on water and sanitation.About half of the countries surveyed have set drinking water targets that aim for universal coverage at levels higher than basic services by 2030 by, for example, addressing water quality and increasing access to water on premises.

As the international authority on public health and water, sanitation and hygiene, WHO gathers scientific evidence, sets and monitors standards, and promotes best practices for ensuring safe, reliable water, sanitation and hygiene for all.WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, said: “Too many people lack access to reliable and safe drinking water, toilets and hand-washing facilities, putting them at risk of deadly infections and threatening progress in 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. We call on all countries that lack essential water and sanitation infrastructure to allocate funds and human resources to build and maintain it.”

Chair of UN-Water and president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, said: “If we are to create a healthier, more equitable and stable society, then strengthening the systems to reach those currently living without safe and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene services must be a top priority.“While we need to ensure sufficient funding to tackle these critical challenges, it is equally important to continue reinforcing national delivery systems.”


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