- Recently, the Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) report was released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN-Water.
- The increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related extreme weather events continue to impact universal access to safe and sustainably managed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
- Less than one-third of countries reported maintaining enough human resources to manage essential WASH tasks.
- Poor access to WASH claims millions of lives each year.
- SDG 6:
- In many countries, progress must be accelerated to meet United Nations-mandated (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) six — ensuring universal access to water and sanitation by 2030.
- National Water Targets:
- While 45 percent of countries are on track to achieve their nationally-defined drinking-water coverage targets, only 25 percent of countries are on track to achieve their national sanitation targets.
- Better performing countries are more likely to have:
- Higher utilization of domestic capital commitments and recovery of operations and maintenance (O&M) costs from tariffs;
- Regulatory authorities that carry out key regulatory functions;
- Human and financial resources in place to implement their WASH plans.
- WASH and health:
- Implementation of policies and plans on WASH in health care facilities and on hand hygiene is constrained by a critical lack of financial and human resources.
- The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has also provided a reminder of the importance of hand hygiene to health and infection prevention.
- Climate resilience of WASH systems:
- The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events caused by climate change continue to hamper the delivery of safe WASH services, thus affecting the health of users.
- Despite the World Health Organization (WHO) identifying the impacts of climate change as the biggest health threat facing humanity, the latest GLAAS data show that most WASH policies and plans do not address risks of climate change to WASH services, nor the climate resilience of WASH technologies and management systems.
- Leaving no one behind:
- Measures to reach vulnerable populations and settings with WASH services lack monitoring and financial resources.
- The governments must target underserved populations and settings – such as people living in poverty or in remote or hard-to-reach areas – to ensure they also have access to safe, sustainable WASH services.
- Human resources:
- Insufficient human resources are limiting WASH service delivery
- Less than one third of countries reported they have more than 75% of the human resources needed to carry out key functions to deliver WASH services.
- Human resources are limited by workers not wanting to live or work in rural areas and insufficient financial resources.
- Over 80% of countries reported having an insufficient supply of trained professionals graduating annually from WASH training institutions that meet the needs for on-site sanitation and small drinking-water systems.
- Increased inclusion, financial support and monitoring are needed to ensure women are considered in WASH decisions and services
- Gender and WASH are connected in many ways – from menstrual health and hygiene to local participation and women working in WASH.
- In almost a quarter of countries, women hold less than 10% of government jobs, and less than a third of countries reported high women’s participation in rural drinking-water planning and management.
- This means that women’s voices are not being heard.
- Regulatory authorities often do not fully perform their functions
- A majority of countries have regulatory authorities for drinking-water and sanitation; however, those authorities often do not fully perform their functions, especially for sanitation.
- These key functions range from collecting data and publishing reports to strengthening service providers by recommending planning and actions and enforcing the implementation of the recommendations.
- The increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related extreme weather events continue to hamper the delivery of safe WASH services.
- Nearly two-thirds of countries have WASH strategies that target communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change. However, only approximately a third track advancement or specifically finance these populations.
About GLAAS Report
The WASH vision and mission
- Most WASH policies and plans do not consider climate change threats to WASH services, nor do they take the climate resilience of WASH technology and management systems into account.
- Billions of people are dangerously exposed to infectious diseases, especially in the aftermath of disasters, including climate change-related events.
- While WASH budgets in some countries have increased, a significant portion — more than 75 percent of them — reported having inadequate resources to carry out their WASH plans and objectives.
- Data is not sufficiently used in decisions on planning or resource allocation for WASH. Barriers to data use include lack of human and financial resources, fragmentation of data collection and processing, poor reliability and quality of data, and lack of coordination of WASH actors in collecting and sharing data.
- Urgent action is required at global and local levels to ensure universal access to WASH in order to avert catastrophic effects of infectious diseases on health of millions of people
- Governments and development partners should strengthen WASH systems and dramatically increase investment to extend access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services to all by 2030, beginning with the most vulnerable.
- WASH must be seen through a gender lens. Policies and action plans must respond to the needs of women and girls by involving them in the planning, decision-making and governance of services.
- Hand hygiene must be recognized as a fundamental behaviour. The transformative health benefits of improved water and sanitation services can only be fully realized when good hand hygiene behaviours are practised. This simple act is proven to dramatically reduce the spread of deadly diseases.
- Governments must take a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to water and sanitation. States are duty-bearers of providing water and sanitation services to people, who are rights-holders. Rights-holders can claim their rights and duty-bearers must guarantee the rights to water and sanitation equally and without discrimination.