The Human Impact

Only two Southern African countries on track to meet 2015 MDG water and sanitation targets – report

Some 120,000 children under the age of five in Southern African countries die every year from diarrhoea, which is primarily caused by lack of access to clean water and sanitation.

More than 40 million people in the region who should have received access to safe drinking water by 2015 will miss out, and 73 million will go without basic sanitation due to investment shortfalls, according to a report.

Only two out of 15 Southern African countries – Botswana and Seychelles – are set to meet their 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets to reduce by half the number of people without access to clean water and sanitation, according to the report by Water Aid.

The cost of getting those countries that have fallen behind back on track would be $3.6 billion per year, said the international development NGO.

Despite a 2008 commitment by African Union countries to spend at least 5 percent of their GDP on sanitation and hygiene, none of the governments has kept the promise.

“Urinating in dams” to solve India’s drought? Minister faces backlash

As India’s western state of Maharashtra reels from the worst drought in over four decades and millions of people face the risk of hunger, a top official has sparked outrage with a crass, insensitive joke that he should urinate in the region’s empty dams to solve water shortages.

Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra and former irrigation minister, referred in a speech last weekend to a poor drought-hit farmer who had been on hunger strike for almost two months to demand more water.

“He has been fasting for the last 55 days. If there is no water in the dam, how can we release it? Should we urinate into it? If there is no water to drink, even urination is not possible,” Pawar told the gathering, who responded with much laughter.

UNDP’s Helen Clark: balancing water, food, energy key to post-2015 goals

Global development goals due to replace current anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015 could be unified by a concept that calls for an integrated view of economic growth and development, said Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The concept — the water-energy-food nexus – aims to create a sustainable economy and a healthy environment by considering how each of the three elements interrelate and are affected by decision-making.

“It’s a more holistic approach  –  without water you can’t farm, without clean water you can’t be healthy, without ways of allocating and looking after the water supply there won’t be enough to meet our needs — it’s got many dimensions,” Clark said.

Menstruation taboo puts 300 mln women in India at risk – experts

More than 300 million women and girls in India do not have access to safe menstrual hygiene products, endangering their health, curtailing their education and putting their livelihoods at risk, say experts at the Geneva-based Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).

At least 23 percent of girls in India leave school when they start menstruating and the rest miss an average of five days during each monthly menstrual period between the ages of 12 and 18, according to WSSCC, a partnership run by government, non-governmental organisation (NGO) members and a United  Nations-hosted secretariat.

“From a taboo standpoint they are ostracised – it’s an awkward situation to be in if you are having your monthly period and you simply do not want to be seen by others because they may perceive you as either dirty or unhygienic in some way,” said Chris Williams, executive director of WSSCC.

Think local on post-2015 U.N. global water-security goals – study

Policymakers debating water security must consider how the world’s most vulnerable people cope with variable access to water or the next global development goals will fail to lift rural areas out of poverty, say the authors of a new study.

Ignoring the humanitarian aspects of water security sidesteps important socio-political, economic and environmental factors related to rainfall levels, according to the report from international charity WaterAid and the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

Often the term “water security” refers to global water availability shortages or reflects concerns about securing water for companies or at a national level, WaterAid’s Daniel Yeo told AlertNet.

New interactive web atlas pinpoints water risk hotspots

A new online mapping tool for monitoring global water resources will improve water-risk management by showing patterns of water stress, flooding, drought and areas of water access, its creators say.

The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, developed by environmental think-tank World Resources Institute (WRI) and an alliance of businesses and governments, can be customised by users to reflect a range of data with a few clicks of a computer mouse.

It combines 12 water-risk indicators to create maps showing where water problems might exist.

Lack of toilets, clean water costs world $260 bln each year – Liberia president

Poor access to sanitation and clean water costs the global economy $260 billion each year, according to Liberia’s president who is leading work to craft proposals for a new set of global anti-poverty goals.

They are intended to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed in 2000 and expire in 2015.

“$260 billion in economic losses annually is directly linked to inadequate water supply and sanitation around the world,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told a meeting on the post-2015 development agenda in the capital Monrovia this week. “We must take this issue more seriously.”

Over to you: experts take water development goals debate to Web

An inspired Facebook update or a 140-character tweet could play a key role in shaping global development plans.

Over the next few weeks, policymakers are seeking input from the public via social media channels as they craft a sustainable development goal to address global water-management concerns and ensure water is available in the future for food and industrial production, for drinking and for sanitation.

Experts hope the internet-based public water consultation will help them forge streamlined goals for the post-2015 development agenda by building consensus around three main aspects of water management: water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); water resources; wastewater management and water quality.

Financial app would set sanitation cost benchmarks

Nick Dickinson from International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) discusses the Quick Financial Sustainability Check project under construction by Team Fresh Sh!t at the Sanitation Hackathon in London.

The hackathon is a global project where developers are working on solutions to challenges facing the sanitation sector using mobile technology. Globally, 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation facilities. listen to ‘Fresh Sh!t’s #SanHack “Quick Financial Sustainability Check”’ on Audioboo

//

Hackathon seeks solutions to global sanitation crisis

Applying mobile technology to help provide proper sanitation to 2.5 billion people who lack it makes sense given that globally 5 billion people are subscribed to mobile phone services, many of them in the developing world, according to the organisers of a two-day global brainstorming event.

The Sanitation Hackathon, which is taking place this weekend, has attracted software developers, designers, entrepreneurs and students to sites in at least 30 cities around the world.

We’re trying to find solutions by building on the massive penetration of mobile phones in the developing world and the availability of data that now makes it possible to improve services for many people, said Andy Narracott, deputy chief executive of Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), who inspired the London initiative.

    •