The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN-Water have published the most recent version of the UN-Water Global Assessment and Analysis of Sanitation and Drinking-Water 2019 (known as the GLAAS Report).
The survey of 115 countries and territories reveals that weak government systems and lack of human resources and funds continue to hamper the delivery of water and sanitation (WASH) services in the world’s poorest countries and that efforts to ensure adequate services for all have been undermined.
“Too many people lack access to reliable and safe drinking-water, toilets and hand-washing facilities, putting them at risk of deadly infections and threatening progress in public health,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Water and sanitation systems don’t just improve health and save lives, they are a critical part of building more stable, secure and prosperous societies. We call on all countries that lack essential water and sanitation infrastructure to allocate funds and human resources to build and maintain it.”
The scope of the survey affects 4.5 billion people, roughly more than half the world’s population. The report shows that, “in an overwhelming majority of countries, the implementation of water, sanitation and hygiene policies and plans is constrained by inadequate human and financial resources. Nineteen countries and one territory reported a funding gap of more than 60% between identified needs and available funding.” Fewer than 15% of countries have the financial or human resources needed to implement plans.
“If we are to create a healthier, more equitable and stable society, then strengthening the systems to reach those currently living without safe and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene services must be a top priority,” says Mr Gilbert F Houngbo, Chair of UN-Water and President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. “While we need to ensure that there is sufficient funding to tackle these critical challenges, it is equally important to continue reinforcing national delivery systems.”
The report points to funding gaps and weak systems that negatively affect a country’s progress, but the report also provides information on positive steps to deliver Sustainable Goal 6 on water and sanitation.
Almost half of the countries surveyed have set drinking water targets and aim for better than universal coverage by 2030. These address water quality and increasing access to water on premises. Targets also address open defecation, and the positive impact on public and environmental health.