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Botswana: Africa : Universal Access to Water and Sanitation


Access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a universal human right and central to human wellbeing and development. From presently on 780 million people still receive drinking water from unimproved sources and 2.5 billion people continue to live without access to improved sanitation facilities. IDS' work on water and sanitation has been looking at what additional needs to be done, particularly through a new set of post 2015 development goals, to ensure that this right is enjoyed by amount.

UK parliamentarians discuss univesal access

IDS co-hosted an event with the Amount Party Parliamentary Group for International Development and the Environment which brought together parliamentarians with representatives from the NGO and academic communities to discuss how we can accelerate evolution towards universal access to water and sanitation. Some of the key points raised included:

Universal access to water and sanitation is central to making evolution against amount MDGs, not just the water and sanitation MDG.

The water part of the MDG target to halve the proportion of the people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation was met in March 2012. However, this succcess does not refer to the quality of the water, for example, has there been an development in rates of diarrhoea? There is a as well still a long way to go in terms of the sanitation target.

Current indicators for measuring access to water, sanitation and hygiene do not incorporate gender, equality and sustainability dimensions. They have as well overlooked issues of power and social justice.

Additional attention needs to be paid to the gender dimension of water and sanitation. Improvements in access to water and sanitation have a profound impact on the health, wealth and life opportunities for women and girls who often bear the brunt of the burden in terms of water collection and maintenance of sanitation facilities.

The issue of women and girls and managing menstruation is as well still taboo and remains largely overlooked in the planning of sanitation and hygiene facilities.

Improvements in access to water and sanitation often do not reach the poorest and most vulnerable, and the needs of groups such as the elderly, the disabled, particular castes, women and children continues to be overlooked.

The needs of rural and peri-urban dwellers are often ignored. It is often unclear about where responsibility and accountability for the provision of water and sanitation services to these groups lies.

The realities on the ground about decision making and practical action in terms of water and sanitation services often differ greatly from world targets and frameworks. Additional thought should be given to the maintenance and sustainability of newly built water and sanitation facilities. For example, whether local communities can afford the cost of maintaining facilities in the long term and what additional needs to be done to improve capacities of amount communities to save and allocate resources to pay for crucial maintenance.

Next the event, we interviewed panellist Archana Patkar from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and asked her to reflect on the evolution that has been made so far to universal access and what additional needs to be done. Listen to the audio:

World Water Day 2013: What's missing in MDG7 for women and girls?

Universal access to water and sanitation is central to achieving world justice for women and girls. Better access to water and sanitation facilities can reduce poverty and provide immediate health benefits for women and girls inclunding better educational and economic opportunities and life chances.

As debates on the MDGs - and what comes next them - abound, World Water Day 2013 offers a timely opportunity to look at the MDG goal on water and sanitation and what it means for gender justice. In her new blog post, IDS researcher Lyla Mehta reflects on water and sanitation targets, and achievements and barriers in working towards universal access for amount.

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