New report says the world is falling short on sanitation

By 2015, almost one-third of the global population will remain without access to improved sanitation – which is U.N.-speak for hygienic toilet facilities. That would fall well short of a key global Millennium Development Goal, which is detailed in a new report published jointly by the World Health Organization and the U.N. Children’s Fund.

Bruce Gordon, the acting coordinator for water, sanitation and health at the World Health Organization, said Monday’s report was published as a wake-up call.

“Now, with the period of the MDGs coming to a close — I think it is in about 1,000 days or so — we are seeing very clearly that unless we do something very differently, the sanitation goal is going to be missed.”

The U.N.’s Millennium Development Goal number 7, aims to reduce by half by 2015 the number of people without access to clean, reliable toilet facilities compared to numbers reported in 1990.

According to the report, if the current trend persists, 2.4 billion people will still be living without improved sanitation. They say the goal will be missed by 8 percent.

Gordon said a major drive needs to be made to get the numbers on track.

One of the key efforts, he said, needs to be made in rural areas. Gordon noted that a lot of money is spent on complex urban sanitation systems in cities, at the expense of those in rural areas who have nothing.

The World Bank estimates global economic losses due to poor sanitation at $260 billion a year.

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