Poor state of water and sanitation services: Why ignorance is reshaping our future?
Research output: Other conference contribution › Paper, poster or abstract › Scientific
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2014|
|Event||COOPERATION ACROSS BORDERS: COMPREHENSIVE RESPONSES TO TRANSECTING GLOBAL CHALLENGES? - Helsinki Congress Paasitorni, Helsinki, Finland|
Duration: 12 Nov 2014 → 13 Nov 2014
|Seminar||COOPERATION ACROSS BORDERS|
|Period||12/11/14 → 13/11/14|
Worse still, nearly 1.4 billion people are expected to have no access to basic sanitation services in 2050. 2.6 billion people still do not use improved sanitation, whilst 884 million people do not use improved sources of drinking water. Of critical importance is the fact that access to an “improved” water source does not necessarily mean access to “safe” water fit for human consumption. As a result, half of Africa’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease. While the service coverage estimates identify the order-of-magnitude of the problem, the numbers of people threatened by poor management of constructed systems is much greater.
Investment in water infrastructure can reduce the strain on government health budgets by reducing external costs from adverse health impacts resulting from poor water and sanitation services. Benefit-to-cost ratios have been reported to be as high as 7 to 1 for basic water and sanitation services in developing countries. The social benefits that water and wastewater services provide are well known, including reduced mortality and morbidity from waterborne diseases. Most of these benefits accrue outside the financial accounts of the infrastructure investor, creating a significant gap between “project” and “social” rates of return. Since the development of water and wastewater infrastructure grew out of the public health revolution in the late 1800s, there is a strong link between public health and the development of water and wastewater utilities.
Provision of adequate infrastructure and basic services to the poorest populations in developing countries will be an essential step to protect these communities and to build resilience to external stressors. In developing countries, access to water and sanitation services is a fundamental precondition for poverty reduction and economic progress. The multiple benefits of providing access to water and sanitation in terms of health, life expectancy, and the freeing of time for education and economic activities, are well known. Yet, the prevailing paradigm has been for decades and still is: Although investments in water and sanitation services are producing unquestionably high rate of returns, we’ve much more fashionable items on our agenda, such as climate change, integrated water resources management, food and water security, green economy, water as a human right. Therefore the needed investments are not simply done.