“Without more progress in providing access to safe water and effective sanitation, children will continue to miss school, health costs will continue to be a drag in national economies, adults will continue to miss work, and women and girls, and it’s almost always women and girls, will continue to spend hours every day fetching water, typically from dirty sources.”
-Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Goodwill Ambassador for water, sanitation and hygiene in Africa
The United Nations’ Millenium Developement Goals (MDGs), focus on many sectors, including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. The goal is to decrease by half the number of the people in the world who are living without access to clean water or improved sanitation. While many regions of the world are on-track for clean water, it does not look like the goal for improved sanitation (such as a flush toilet, piped sewage, ventilated latrine) will be met.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that 61 percent of people have access to clean water, but only about 30 percent have access to improved sanitation. We know that this affects health and other things, such as whether or not a girl stays in school once she reaches puberty. What receives less attention is what this costs in dollars.
In a recent UN meeting on Global Poverty reduction, it was brought to attention that the health costs, work hours lost, opportunity lost and other factors amount to 260 billion dollars spent.
What can you do?
These costs can be reduced with effective interventions and aid. You can join Strong Women, Strong World on March 20th in Washington D.C. to speak with your members of Congress about clean water and improved sanitation.