Drinking water MDG target met, sanitation lags behind
According to recent estimates, India and Nepal have already met their MDG water targets, but sanitation coverage remains poor (source: www.infochangeindia.org)
South Asia, India included, is on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. However, it is not on track to meet a similar target for sanitation, according to the most recent estimates by the WHO/Unicef Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) for the period 1990-2004. 'South Asia's sanitation coverage is among the lowest in the world, at 37%, about the same as that in sub-Saharan Africa. In four of the region's eight countries -- including the most populous country, India -- barely more than one-third of people have access to improved sanitation facilities,' the report says. This has an impact on child health, the report continues. As a consequence, under-5 mortality in South Asia, at 92 child deaths per 1,000 live births, is the highest in the developing world outside sub-Saharan Africa, where the rate is 171 per 1,000 live births. Rural-urban disparities in sanitation in South Asia are among the highest in the world. The number of people in urban areas without access to sanitation increased from 139 million in 1990 to 153 million in 2004, but urban areas were still twice as likely to have access to sanitation as rural areas. In India, the difference is even greater, at 59% for urban areas and 22% for rural areas. This leaves 600 million people living in rural India without basic sanitation. South Asia has boosted access to improved (the report makes a distinction between 'safe' and 'improved') drinking water sources, from 71% in 1990 to 85% in 2004, and has virtually met its MDG target of 86%. India and Nepal have already met the MDG water target, and Pakistan has virtually achieved it. Some 445 million people gained access over the period, 88% of them in India and Pakistan. But a further 243 million, around 24 million a year, need to be reached by 2015 if the target is to be met. Among the steps recommended for reaching the two targets, the report recommends better management and allocation of resources, stepping up fund allocations, greater commitment of governments to the issue, and a focus on functional low-cost services.
Source: Eldis Health Reporter, January 8, 2008