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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Least successful development goal

The Philippine Star

You can survive for a day without food, but not without water; it’s the basic sustenance for those fasting during the Lenten season. Water is a necessity for health, sanitation, industries, agriculture and food security, and maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Hydropower is a preferred alternative to coal-fired power plants.

Water is indispensable for sustainable development, and ensuring its reliable supply is one of the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations, however, has determined that among the MDGs, global progress has been slowest in providing safe water, with the success rate even worse in the provision of sanitation facilities. The UN sees the problem getting worse due to irregular rainfall attributed to climate change, dwindling underwater reserves, and a global water demand that is projected to soar by 55 percent within 15 years.

In cities, pollution and continuing urban migration aggravate the problem. In the countryside, insufficient irrigation is affecting agricultural production. In impoverished communities, the lack of access to clean water even for washing hands has been a factor in poor health especially among children.

The UN estimates that up to a billion people still defecate in the open and about 2.5 billion live without improved sanitation, while 750 million have no access to improved water supply. In several countries, women and girls bear the burden, spending many hours carrying fresh water to their homes from faraway sources, the UN reported.

Studies on worst-case scenarios have warned that wars will be fought over fresh water supplies. The UN is calling for more policies to promote water conservation and support wastewater treatment and recycling.

In 1993, the UN designated March 22 as World Water Day. This year’s theme is “Water and Sustainable Development.” On the 22nd observance of World Water Day, too many people still lack access to a daily supply of 7.5 liters per day – the minimum water requirement per person, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

A better daily quantity is 20 liters per person – enough for basic sanitation and food hygiene needs. It’s not a lot, but one that can’t be met even in many areas of the Philippines, where millions still rely on communal artesian wells for fresh water needs. Many public schools still lack running water for pupils to wash their hands. The country suffers periodic cholera outbreaks because of inadequate water and sanitation facilities. World Water Day should inspire intensified efforts to provide universal access to safe water.

vuukle comment

ACCESS

DAY

MANY

MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

SANITATION

UNITED NATIONS

WATER

WATER AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

WORLD WATER DAY

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