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UNITED NATIONS - / MaximsNews Network / 14 September 2008 --The International Water Association (IWA) urges political and civic leaders to take more vigorous action and make necessary investments to stem the "Sanitation Crisis" now plaguing poor countries around the world.

Meeting in Vienna , IWA members noted that it was unacceptable that 2.6 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation, that the professional community has the skills and know how to solve the problem today, and called for leaders to give this issue the priority is deserves.  

In a further effort to influence practice, IWA issued a reference paper based on the work of its Sanitation 21 Task Force, outlining the scale and nature of the crisis and recommending several steps that should be taken in order to achieve the internationally agreed upon Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

 "Decision makers should recognize that sanitation is fundamental for people and the environment, and that they need to allocate more resources to address all sanitation needs," the IWA paper reports. 


 "Current policies are not sufficient for meeting the sanitation requirements of poor communities. Sector professionals are willing and able to respond to the sanitation crisis, but require strong and consistent political backing from all levels."

 The IWA report notes that approximately 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation facilities, and that 450,000 people need to gain access to this basic service every day between now and 2015 in order to meet the MDGs. 

"On current trends, for example, sub-Saharan Africa will not achieve sanitation targets until the end of the Century," the report explains. 

The document  delineates how meeting the sanitation goals would produce a net gain billions of productive adult and student days, billions of dollars in the value of time saved and deaths avoided, with the result of over $260 billion in economic value realized.

 The report also advocates the implementation of integrated sanitation systems as opposed to discrete "fixes" – combinations of toilets, waste collection and transportation systems, waste treatment and disposal.  

However, warns  the IWA report, such systems will be technically viable only if management requirements are matched by adequate financial capacity.

 The full report and a host of other information on IWA’s activities in the sanitation areas is available at: http://www.iwahq.org/templates/ld_templates/layout_633184.aspx?ObjectId=671601







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