World will miss MDG target of improved sanitation in 2015: WHO/UNICEF

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Billions without access to improved sanitation

Some 2.4 billion people – one-third of the world's population – will remain without access to improved sanitation in 2015, according to a new joint WHO/UNICEF report issued Monday.

The report, Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water 2013 Update, warns that, at the current rate of progress, the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of the 1990 population without sanitation will be missed by eight per cent – or half a billion people.

While UNICEF and WHO announced that the MDG drinking water target had been met and surpassed by 2010, the challenge to improve sanitation and reach those in need has led to a consolidated call for action to accelerate progress.

The report echoes the urgent call to action by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson for the world community to combine efforts and end open defecation by 2025.

With less than three years to go to reach the MDG deadline, WHO and UNICEF call for a final push to meet the sanitation target. Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health and Environment said "There is an urgent need to ensure all the necessary pieces are in place – political commitment, funding, leadership – so the world can accelerate progress and reach the Millennium Development Goal sanitation target". And, Sanjay Wijesekera, the global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme, said “This is an emergency no less horrifying than a massive earthquake or tsunami”.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’30″

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