Unic Press UK: A United Nations World Water Development report 2019 ‘Leaving No One Behind’ published by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on behalf of UN-Water underlines that safe drinking water and sanitation are basic human rights, as both are indispensable to sustaining healthy livelihoods and maintaining the dignity of all human beings.
The 189-page report also underscores that global cost–benefit studies demonstrates that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services are part of the purveyors of good social and economic returns when compared with their costs “with a global average benefit–cost ratio of 5.5 for improved sanitation and 2.0 for improved drinking water.”
The report identifies marginalization, discrimination, exclusion, material inequalities and entrenched power asymmetries as some of the principal obstacles to achieving the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for all and realizing the water-related goals of the 2030 Agenda.
“Over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress, and about 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year. Stress levels will continue to increase as demand for water grows and the effects of climate change intensify. Three out of ten people do not have access to safe drinking water. Almost half of people drinking water from unprotected sources live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Six out of ten people do not have access to safely managed sanitation services, and one out of nine practice open defecation. However, these global figures mask significant inequities between and within regions, countries, communities and even neighbourhoods,” the report reads.