World meets MDG target for clean drinking water

Two years to the goal deadline of 2015, the world has achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of the world’s population without access to safe drinking water, The UNICEF announced Tuesday March 6, 2012. More than two billion gained access to drinking water between 1990 and 2010, it says.

Between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells, it said. Making it the first of the MDGs to be achieved worldwide.

“Today we recognize a great achievement for the people of the world. This is one of the first MDG targets to be met. The successful efforts to provide greater access to drinking water are a testament to all who see the MDGs not as a dream, but as a vital tool for improving the lives of millions of the poorest people,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

According to a report titled ‘Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012’, which was issued by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, at the end of 2010 89% of the world’s population, or 6.1 billion people, used improved drinking water sources. This is one per cent more than the 88% MDG target. The report estimates that by 2015 92% of the global population will have access to improved drinking water.

Despite this achievement however, there are still millions in the world who do not have access to clean water.

Raising a caution, Executive Director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, warned that victory could not yet be declared as at least 11% of the world’s population – 783 million people – are still without access to safe drinking water, and billions without sanitation facilities.

“The numbers are still staggering,” he said, “But the progress announced today is proof that MDG targets can be met with the will, the effort and the funds.”

The UNICEF report also highlights, however, that the world is still far from meeting the MDG target for sanitation, and is unlikely to do so by 2015.

It said, only 63% of the world now has improved sanitation access, a figure projected to increase only to 67% by 2015, well below the 75% aim in the MDGs. Currently 2.5 billion people still lack improved sanitation.

UNICEF and WHO in a press release also cautioned that since the measurement of water quality is not possible globally, progress towards the MDG target of safe drinking water is measured through gathering data on the use of improved drinking water sources. Significant work must be done to ensure that improved sources of water are and remain safe.

In Ghana however, as at 2010, 62 percent of the country’s population had access to potable drinking water, according to the former Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Alban Bagbin.

He said the quantity of water available to Ghanaians has reduced to about a fourth of what it was in 1960. He indicated that the quantity available had reduced from 3,709 gallons per head to 995 gallons, due to the rise in population, adding that it will further shrink to a sixth by 2050.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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