Nearly 1/2 the World Lacks Access to Clean Water and Sanitation – new WHO report shows slow progress despite billions in international aid

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The latest report from the United Nations World Health Organization, called the UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water, surveyed 94 countries to analyze the world’s strengths and weaknesses in regard to water, sanitation, and hygiene. According to the report, 80 percent of the countries surveyed have national policies in place to improve drinking water and sanitation.

International aid for water and sanitation improvements is on the rise. Financial commitments increased by 30 percent—from $8.3 billion in 2012 to $10.9 billion this year. 748 million people do not have access to clean drinking water. And hundreds of millions more live without clean water and soap to wash their hands, facilitating the spread of diarrhea, the second leading cause of death among children under five.

International investments in water and sanitation improvements pay off. How so? There’s a big return on investment for each dollar spent on human health and development. WHO estimates that for every dollar invested in water and sanitation, there is a $4.30 return in reduced health care costs. · Two-thirds of the 94 countries surveyed recognized drinking water and sanitation as a universal human right in national legislation.

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