Governments must invest more in building safe drinking water systems, both to ensure greater access to this resource and to mitigate the effects of climate change, according to a report published on Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO), UN children’s agency, UNICEF, and the World Bank. Providing water and sanitation for everyone on the planet is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by all 193 UN Member States in 2015.

The report revealed that although more than two billion people gained access to safe drinking water over the past two decades, a quarter of the world’s population is still being left behind. Meanwhile, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, affecting water security and disrupting supply. Rapid urbanization is also making it hard for cities to deliver water to millions living in informal communities and slums.

The report examines the links between water, health and development. It contains actionable recommendations for governments and partners aimed at increasing funding for safer systems, and strengthening capacities to plan, coordinate, and regulate service provision. Examples showing how countries are contributing to achieving the SDG target of reaching safely managed drinking water for all by 2030 are also included.

The partners have called for governments and the private sector to dramatically increase political commitment to drinking water, and to quadruple investment. The report provides comprehensive recommendations for sustainable improvements focused around the areas of governance, financing, capacity development, data and information, as well as innovation.

They include strengthening existing institutions, for example by establishing an effective regulatory environment, supported by legislation and standards for service quality, and ensuring enforcement. Funding from all sources should be increased, with water service providers improving efficiency and performance, and governments providing a stable and transparent administrative, regulatory and policy environment. Innovation and experimentation should also be encouraged through supportive government policy and regulation.

Source: The UN


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