New Delhi: 2.2 billion people are living without access to safe water, states the United Nations. What this means is 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, as per the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene report – Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000 – 2020.
The report makes it clear that, if current trends persist, billions of children and families will be left without critical, life-saving WASH services. Further stating that by 2030 only 67 per cent of people globally will have safe sanitation services, leaving out about 2.8 billion.
On World Water Day 2022, marked annually on March 22, here are some findings of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene report:
- The use of safely managed sanitation services increased from 47 per cent to 53 per cent of the world population during 2015–2020.
- By 2020, 71 per cent of the world population had basic handwashing facilities with soap and water available at home. The latter facilities have gained importance since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic because handwashing is indicated to reduce the transmission of viruses strongly.
- Though handwashing is critical to the health and fighting the Coronavirus, at the onset of the pandemic, 3 in 10 people worldwide could not wash their hands with soap and water within their homes.
- If the current trend continues, by 2030, only 78 per cent will have basic handwashing facilities, leaving out 1.9 billion without handwashing facilities.
What is World Water Day?
A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030. World Water Day started in 1993 and is celebrated on March 22 with a specific theme set by UN-Water. The theme for this year is ‘groundwater’ and the focus is to make an invisible resource with an impact visible everywhere.
While water is needed for safe sanitation, similarly, adequate sanitation is required to ensure quality groundwater. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2022 states,
The impact of inadequate or inappropriate sanitation on groundwater is observed in urban areas where main-sewer coverage is low and most domestic faecal waste is discharged into pit latrines. Human health and the environment can also be put at significant risk as a result of soil contamination and leaching from non-engineered and old industrial dumpsites and legacy mines.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.