World's poor to wait '200 years' for sanitation

WaterAid charity says global efforts to increase access to clean water ignore those most in need

A global plan to halve by 2015 the number of people without access to sanitation is failing so badly that some of the world's poorest countries will not have this basic necessity for another 200 years.

Almost 900 million people worldwide live without access to clean water and more than two and a half billion people live without adequate sanitation – more than a third of the world's population. But, says the charity WaterAid in a report due out this week, aid given to solve this problem is not reaching the people who need it most.

Ninety per cent of people without access to sanitation facilities live in just 29 countries, with the highest absolute numbers in India and China. But new research by the charity shows that the top 10 recipients of water, sanitation and hygiene aid ("Wash") over the past decade have not been those in greatest need, but largely middle- or upper-middle-income countries.

Barbara Frost, chief executive of WaterAid, said: "Historical and strategic interests still influence where aid is going, rather than the countries and communities where poverty and need is highest. Over the past decade, least developed countries have received only 30 per cent of aid for water, sanitation and hygiene. With an increase of aid focused on the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved every year, and a major step will have been taken towards ending the global water and sanitation crisis."

WaterAid's analysis of figures provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that, between 2000 to 2009, India and China, which have more than 800 million and 600 million people respectively without access to sanitation facilities, were top 10 recipients for Wash aid in nine and eight years respectively. Yet the poorest sub-Saharan African countries, where the proportion of those living in water and sanitation poverty is greatest, appeared only two or three times in the top 10 of aid recipients, in each of the past five years.

According to WaterAid's research, Malaysia, an upper-middle-income country, was the second biggest recipient of water aid in both 2000 and 2005, despite the fact that 97 per cent of the population already had access to sanitation and 92 per cent access to water. Morocco and Jordan, both middle-income countries, appear five and six times as top 10 aid recipients, despite the fact that 64 per cent and 98 per cent of their populations had access to sanitation and water respectively before aid was given.

By contrast, Niger, with only 9 per cent of its population with access to sanitation, has not appeared in the top 10 recipient list once. Iraq has been in the top 10 since 2004, attracting $3.7bn of aid in just six years. More than 70 per cent of its population have access to sanitation facilities, according to the latest official figures.

Despite United Nations evidence showing that investment in water and sanitation can be one of the most cost-effective forms of aid, WaterAid concludes that progress on sanitation has been "slow, uneven and unjust". The share of global aid going to sanitation and water projects has fallen to 5.5 per cent, down from more than 8 per cent in the 1990s.

Alastair Morrison, programme manager at the UNDP water governance facility at Stockholm International Water Institute, said low levels of sanitation access do not just

impact upon other global health indicators, but also on the world's wealth. "We need to be aware of how serious the issue of sanitation is. We are seeing a loss of 6 per cent a year to some countries' GDP due to poor sanitation; this is $50bn or so in India each year, on top of health and humanitarian impacts," he said.

While the United Nations target to halve the number of people without access to water by 2015 is globally on-track, in sub-Saharan Africa access to sanitation is now the least successful of its eight Millennium Development Goals, and will not be met for 200 years, WaterAid says. Rwanda has moved to improve household access to sanitation faster than any other country in the region, but there are still 328 million people living without access to water in sub-Saharan Africa, and the percentage of the population with access to sanitation facilities has gone up by only 2 per cent in the past decade, to 31 per cent.

The report draws particular attention to America's aid policy, pointing out that it spent more than eight times as much per person in countries where more than three-quarters of the population had adequate sanitation than in countries where access was lower.

A spokesman for USAID, the American government's humanitarian agency, said: "It is true that some of our largest programmes, on a per capita basis, are in countries with fairly high, though not universal, coverage levels," but he also stressed that USAID's programmes "target the marginalised and disadvantaged populations without service or with poor-quality service".

He added: "The US factors a number of foreign policy and development considerations into the allocation of resources to improve water supply, sanitation and hygiene. These include host-country engagement and capacity, the potential for systems strengthening to improve services, as well as low access to service."

Before the Water and Sanitation for All meeting in Washington DC in April next year, WaterAid has created a list of countries that they say are in most need of Wash aid. Ethiopia tops the table, followed by Burkina Faso, Afghanistan, Congo and Niger.

Suggested Topics
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried