A new report from United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that billions of people around the world will be unable to access safely managed household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services in 2030 unless the rate of progress to mitigate the problem quadruples.
The Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report titled "Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000 – 2020" jointly published by WHO and Unicef states that 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, said a press release jointly issued by WHO and Unicef on Thursday.
According to the JMP report, under the current rate, only 81 per cent of the world's population will have access to safe drinking water at home, leaving 1.6 billion without safe drinking water by 2030.
At the same time, only 67 per cent of the global population will have safe sanitation services, leaving a total of 2.8 billion without safe sanitation, and only 78 per cent will have basic handwashing facilities, leaving a total of 1.9 billion without the facility.
According to the report, in 2020, around 1 in 4 people lacked safely managed drinking water in their homes and nearly half the world's population lacked safely managed sanitation.
In Bangladesh, 68.3 million people lack safely managed drinking water, while 103 million people lack safely managed sanitation facilities.
The report also stated that at the onset of the pandemic, 3 in 10 people worldwide could not wash their hands with soap and water within their homes, the release said.
According to the report, 2.3 billion people in the world did not have access to basic hygiene facilities in the period between 2000 and 2020. In Bangladesh, 61.7 million people did not have access to basic hygiene facilities representing close to 3 per cent of the global burden.
The stats presented in the report suggest that 8 out of 10 people in the world are 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.
The report also stated that 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.
According to the report, 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.
In the finding presented, the report noted vast inequalities and said that vulnerable families and children are the most acute victims of such sufferings.
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; safely managed sanitation services grew from 47 per cent to 54 per cent and handwashing 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 a need for governments to ensure adequate support for safely managed on-site sanitation, including faecal sludge management, the report suggested.
In regards to the findings, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, "Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, yet millions of people across the world lack access to a reliable, safe supply of water."
"Investment in water, sanitation and hygiene must be a global priority if we are to end this pandemic and build more resilient health systems," added Dr Tedros
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said, "Even before the pandemic, millions of children and families were suffering without clean water, safe sanitation, and a place to wash their hands."
"Despite our impressive progress to date to scale-up these lifesaving services, the alarming and growing needs continue to outstrip our ability to respond. The time has come to dramatically accelerate our efforts to provide every child and family with the most basic needs for their health and well-being, including fighting off infectious diseases like COVID-19," added Henrietta.