"Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special focus on Sanitation", is a report brought out by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, that tracks the progress on target 10 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is "To halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation".
2008 being the International Year of Sanitation, the report highlights the importance of Sanitation, as being the crucial stepping stone to health - by offering the opportunity to save the lives of 1.5 million children every year who would otherwise succumb to diarrhoeal and other diseases, to gender equity - by protecting women's dignity and to economic development - as investments in sanitation protect investments in other social sectors such as education and health and bring measurable economic returns.
The data in the report shows that the world is not on track to meet the MDG Sanitation target and that at the current rate of progress, by 2015, the target will be missed by over 700 million people. The report however, indicates that the demand for sanitation facilities is improving and that the future outlook is positive. Some other key figures from the report on the sanitation status are:
In case of drinking water supply, the report states that the world is on track to meet the MDG target, but here too, regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, which are home to 1/3 rd of the world's population, are struggling to stay on track. Some key figures from the report on the drinking water status are:
In recognition of the large sanitation deficit, and the declaration of 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation, the report has a special focus on sanitation. It opens with a review of the current status of sanitation and an assessment of progress towards the sanitation target included in the MDGs. This report highlights urban and rural disparities that would otherwise be masked by total numbers and recognizes the efforts of countries that face the greatest challenges in meeting the MDG water and sanitation target, due to either low baseline coverage levels or rapid population growth.
It also provides a new perspective on progress and also introduces a separate assessment of global, regional and country progress using the sanitation ladder-a new way of analyzing sanitation practices that highlights trends in using improved, shared and unimproved sanitation facilities and the trend in open defecation. In this report, sanitation coverage is presented as a four-step ladder that includes the proportion of the population such as practicing open defecation, using an unimproved sanitation facility, using a shared sanitation facility and using an improved sanction facility. The sanitation ladders shows that more than half of those without improved sanitation already use some type of sanitation facility. Finally, Trends in drinking water coverage are presented in a similar format.
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