‘Toilets, clean water, key to reducing global poverty’

October 20th, 2008 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 20 (IANS) Providing more toilets and safe water would do more to remove poverty and improve global health than any other steps, a recent United Nations University (UNU) analysis has concluded.”Water problems contribute tremendously to some of the world’s most punishing problems, foremost among them the inter-related afflictions of poor health and chronic poverty,” said Zafar Adeel, director of the UNU’s Canadian-based International Network on Water, Environment and Health (INWEH).

“It is astonishing that over decades, the world has not even properly mapped water and sanitation problems nor agreed on such terms as ’safe’ or ‘adequate’ or ‘accessible’ or ‘affordable’, all of which are in daily use by officials and policymakers,” he said.

The INWEH analysis, released Monday, said better water and sanitation reduces poverty in three ways. By creating new service business opportunities for local entrepreneurs; significant savings in public health sector and greater individual productivity in contributing to local and national economies.

UNU also called upon world’s research community to help fill major knowledge gaps that impede progress in addressing the twin global scourges of unsafe water and poor sanitation, said a statement by the university.

Based on inputs of experts from several countries convened in Canada late last year, the analysis urges governments to adopt a more coordinated, integrated and interlinked approach to dealing with water and sanitation problems. Such efforts must be included in national economic development plans, it says.

The UNU analysis identifies population growth, poverty, climate change, globalization and inappropriate policies on investment, urbanization, and intensification of agriculture as the five global trends most likely to exacerbate water supply and sanitation problems in years to come.

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