The United Nations (UN) announced today that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of “reducing by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water” has been achieved, well ahead of the 2015 deadline for reaching the agreed targets aimed at reducing poverty, hunger and preventable diseases. Between 1990 and 2010, two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells, according to a joint report issued by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
While Calgary’s CAWST, Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology, recognizes the significance of this achievement and that reaching this goal does save many lives, especially children's, these results do not draw attention to regional disparities nor do they address the measurement of water quality - access to an improved water source does not equate to safe drinking water in the home. UNICEF and WHO cautioned that significant work must be done to ensure that improved sources of water are, and remain, safe to drink.
“We celebrate the collective results of improved access to water for two billion people”, iterates CAWST CEO Shauna Curry, "however the definitions and metrics do not accurately reflect the reality on the ground. Improved access does not mean the water is safe at point of consumption and we worry this announcement may divert attention away from the still very real, and dire need for safe water.”.
CAWST works to address this issue and to improve water quality at the household level – the point of water use for many people. CAWST provides training and support in 69 countries in the developing world on the treatment of drinking water at the household level through advocating for a multi-barrier approach in the home, including filtration, disinfection and safe storage once the water has been collected from a source. CAWST uses household water treatment as an entry point to introduce and educate on sanitation and hygiene practices, empowering individuals to fully take care of the health of their family.
CAWST and its 333 clients worldwide have significantly impacted 4.6 million people with better water at the household level since 2001, positively contributing to the MDG overall. CAWST plans to reach 20 million people by 2020. To learn more or donate, visit www.cawst.org.