General Studies IIReports

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Report 2021


World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have released WASH report, 2021.

Key findings of report:

  • The Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) of WHO and UNICEF
  • The report notes some progress towards achieving universal access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
  • Between 2016 and 2020, the global population with safely managed drinking water at home increased from 70 per cent to 74 per cent;
    • Sanitation services grew from 47 per cent to 54 per cent;
    • Hand washing facilities with soap and water increased from 67 per cent to 71 per cent.
  • In 2020, for the first time, more people used improved on-site sanitation, such as pit latrines and septic tanks, which can effectively contain and treat waste, rather than sewer connections.
  • There is need for governments to ensure adequate support for safely managed on-site sanitation, including faecal sludge management.
  • The report makes clear that, if current trends persist, billions of children and families will be left without critical, life-saving WASH services, stating that by 2030:
    • Only 81 per cent of the world’s population will have access to safe drinking water at home, leaving 1.6 billion without;
    • Only 67 per cent will have safe sanitation services, leaving 2.8 billion without;
    • And only 78 per cent will have basic Handwashing facilities, leaving 1.9 billion without.
  • The report also notes vast inequalities with vulnerable children and families suffering the most.
  • To achieve universal access to safely managed drinking water by 2030, the current rate of progress in the Least Developed Countries would need to increase ten-fold. In fragile contexts, where people were twice as likely to lack safe drinking water, it would need to accelerate by a factor of 23.
  • “Even before the pandemic, millions of children and families were suffering without clean water, safe sanitation, and a place to wash their hands
  • Eight out of 10 people without basic water services lived in rural areas. Meanwhile, safely managed sanitation services reached 62 per cent of the world’s urban population, but only 44 per cent of its rural population.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing the slowest rate of progress in the world. Only 54 per cent of people used safe drinking water, and only 25 per cent in fragile contexts.
  • Emerging data on menstrual health show that, in many countries, a significant proportion of women and girls are unable to meet menstrual health needs, with significant disparities in particular among vulnerable groups, such as the poor and those with disabilities.

Indian context:

  • India was responsible for the largest drop in open defecation since 2015, in terms of absolute numbers, according to a new Joint Monitoring Programme Report on water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Besides open defecation, the Joint Monitoring Report also emphasised universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.
  • Within India, open defecation had been highly variable regionally since at least 2006.
  • The third round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 2006 found open defecation to be practiced by less than 10 percent of the population in four states and the Union Territory of Delhi, but by more than half the population in 11 states.
  • In the fourth round of the NFHS conducted in 2016, open defecation had decreased in all states, with the largest drops seen in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
  • However, the progress in curbing open defecation in sub-Saharan Africa was slow.
  • The report has shown an improvement in at-source water resources including piped water, boreholes or tubewells, protected dug wells, protected springs, rainwater and packaged or delivered water.

Way forward

Accelerating WASH coverage will require prioritization at the highest levels of decision making by international agencies, governments, civil society and the private sector.  For this to happen, WASH must be a regular fixture on the agenda at high-level political meetings to ensure member states keep track of progress. This is important in the context of the forthcoming mid-term review of the Water Action Decade in 2023 – the first UN conference on water and sanitation in almost 50 years.

About WASH

  • WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work 2019–2023 describes how the Organization’s work will contribute to the health of three billion through multisectoral actions like better emergency preparedness and response; and one billion with universal health coverage (UHC).
  • A limited number of high profile framework impact indicators, centred around these platforms, have been developed.
  • Two of these indicators would accelerate the Organization’s work to increase access to safely managed drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene in households, and additional targets associated with UHC are linked to improving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities (HCF).
  • Seven other indicators, largely linked to essential health services, child and maternal mortality, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), will require improving water, sanitation and energy, especially in HCF.
  • The WHO WASH Strategy has been developed in response to Member State Resolution WHA64.4 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • WHO WASH Strategy also takes on board the need for progressive realization of the human rights to safe drinking-water and sanitation, adopted by the UN General Assembly in July 2010.
  • The 2025 end date of the WASH Strategy is proposed to allow both a reasonably manageable forward-looking time period as well as time to adopt a new WHO strategy in 2025 to enable course corrections in the final five-year period of the SDGs.

The WHO vision for WASH

  • To substantially improve health through the safe management of the water, sanitation and hygiene services in all settings.

Full report PDF

Source: Down to Earth

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