At least 60 ministers responsible for finance, sanitation and hygiene portfolios from over 30 developing countries are expected to participate in the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level meeting on 20 April at the World Bank in Washington D.C, USA.
According to a statement released by David Trouba from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), the aim of the meeting is to provide “a forum for the ministers to agree on urgent action towards ensuring that access to sanitation and safe drinking water becomes a reality for the billions of people who still live without them”.
John Kufuor, Former President of Ghana and newly appointed Chair of the SWA partnership who will lead the meeting, said: “The dream of universal access to sanitation and water is within our reach, but it will require a tremendous increase in political will, adequate resources and coordinated efforts to get us there.”
lt is reported that the SWA meeting to be convened by Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, comes against the backdrop of an announcement in March by UNICEF and WHO that the world had met the MDG overall target for access to safe drinking water in 2010 but that 783 million people were still missing out.
The UN report also says the target for access to improved sanitation that calls for 75% of the world to be covered will not be met by 2015. At current rates of progress, not until 2026 would this target be met and even then it would leave a quarter of the world without improved sanitation.
The SWA Partnership notes that even though the drinking water MDG target has been met, the remaining 783 million people still without access are the hardest to reach, being mostly poor people living in rural areas or urban slums. Access to improved drinking water sources masks huge inequities, with regional disparities and with coverage within countries varying according to geography,wealth and individual status. Women,children,the disabled and other marginalized persons are reported to be particularly affected.
Th group says there is a growing body of economic evidence that poor sanitation has a significant negative impact on the financial coffers of many developing countries.
The ministers meeting in Washington and the SWA partners are hoping that the 2012 meeting will build upon the success of the High Level Meeting in 2010, which was a catalyst for increasing resources and efforts in water and sanitation at the national and international levels.
The April 20 SWA meeting will get commitments from individual governments and the partnership as a whole to target funds for water and sanitation to where they are most needed and ensure that national plans are developed to reach the unserved populations in each country.