|Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report (UNICEF - WSSCC - WHO, 2000, 90 p.)|
This document is an important benchmark for international efforts to bring dignity and health to the world's most deprived people. Through the commendable efforts of WHO and UNICEF we now have a sound basis on which to plan, implement and monitor improvements in water supply and sanitation in the coming years.
That such improvements are urgently needed was never in doubt. For many years, governments and international agencies have been shamed by the plight of nearly half the world's population - those who live their lives with no hygienic means of personal sanitation. The 1980s, the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, saw big strides made in finding affordable technologies and participatory approaches to help serve those without access to improved water and sanitation services. But that Decade also demonstrated conclusively that business as usual would never bring improvements quickly enough to cope with the backlog and provide access to growing populations. Then, too, UNICEF and WHO brought us the damning statistics to prove it.
In the year 2000, we start with a new perspective. In Vision 21, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) has presented a strong consensus that concerted action supporting people's own energy and initiatives can bring rapid and lasting improvements. Targets will vary from country to country, but Vision 21 envisages that the number of people without access to improved water and sanitation services will be halved by 2015, and universal coverage will be achieved by 2025. To reach these goals, we need continuous advocacy targeted at all the stakeholders. The most powerful advocacy tool is dependable information. The big improvements in data gathering that WHO and UNICEF have introduced with this latest global assessment provide us with the baseline and the monitoring methodology that will ensure reliable and consistent statistics to report our progress with confidence. By focusing on users, rather than providers, as primary sources of data the document gains in credibility and creates just the platform we need for tracking the local initiatives that are at the heart of Vision 21.
I am especially pleased at the innovative use of the Internet to keep the statistics updated and accessible on a day-to-day basis. As of today, all those interested in the sector have access, not just to the analyses made by UNICEF and WHO, but to the complete data on which those analyses are based. It is a huge step forward and one that will pay big dividends as Internet usage spreads across the developing world.
In the coming years, WSSCC will work with WHO and UNICEF to extend the monitoring process. We will look for new indicators, to assess the spread of Vision 21 approaches, to assess the impact on the delivery of basic services to the poor, and to assess the social and economic benefits of improved water and sanitation. In commending WHO and UNICEF for their excellent work to date, I call also on all the Collaborative Council's partners to join in the efforts to extend and improve the data by contributing from their own programmes.
With Global Assessment 2000 we have our starting point defined and our monitors in place. Let's be sure through our combined efforts that the next global assessment in three years' time shows good progress towards our ambitious, but eminently achievable goals.