Marking World Toilet Day today, the United Nations independent expert on the right to clean water for drinking and personal hygiene said the international community’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to sharply reduce world poverty by 2015 are set to fail the poor in terms of sanitation.
“Access to sanitation currently ranks as the most-off track of the Millennium Goals, and one that will obviously not be met by 2015,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, said according to a press release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Access to sanitation facilities around the world, more than any other service, provides a window into the vast difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.
“Those who do not have access to adequate sanitation are overwhelmingly people living in poverty, and marginalised and excluded individuals and groups,” she added.
World Toilet Day is observed annually on 19 November. The international day of action aims to break the taboo around toilets and draw attention to the global sanitation challenge.
In her comments, Ms. de Albuquerque recounted that 7,500 people die daily due to a lack of sanitation, including 5,000 children under five years of age. Annually, she said, 272 million schooldays are missed due to water-borne or sanitation-related diseases.
“Access to sanitation facilities around the world, more than any other service, provides a window into the vast difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,’” Ms. de Albuquerque noted.
All the world’s countries and leading development institutions agreed in 2000 to set eight overall development goals – the MDGs – for achievement by 2015. Each MDG listed specific targets, including one under ‘Environmental Sustainability’ to halve the proportion of the population “without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.”
Current MDG figures show that more than one in three people do not have access to “improved sanitation facilities,” according to Ms. de Albuquerque.