2015: Time to invest in clean water and sanitation

SDG Goal 62015 will be a critical year for the global community and the United Nations. It is the year we face several decisions – on disaster risk reduction, financing for development, sustainable development and climate – that will shape our collective futures for generations to come. The “2015 Time for Global Action” campaign is centred around monthly themes that coincide with the priorities for 2015 and opportunities in the calendar of events. The month of November will highlight clean water and sanitation.

“When people have better access to sanitation and water, they are healthier – of course – and they can also work more productively, live more fully and contribute more to society.”
– UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. Drought afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries, worsening hunger and malnutrition.

By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.

More information: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/

Key Dates and Events
UN High-Level Water and Sanitation Days 2015
The UN High-Level Water and Sanitation Days 2015 are a set of coordinated events taking place from 18-20 November at UN Headquarters in New York that include the following three events. More information: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&type=13&nr=1785&menu=1634

18-20 November: Final UNSGAB Meeting. The UNSGAB will share its Final Report on global water problems with the SG and international community. More info: http://www.unsgab.org/index.php?page=view&type=13&nr=25&menu=198

18-19 November: Second UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters.
The session aims to develop both messages and recommendations for major UN conferences, including the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris. More information: http://www.wateranddisaster.org/second-un-special-thematic-session-on-water-and-disasters/

19 November: World Toilet Day
Celebrated globally, UN World Toilet Day is an annual opportunity to inspire action and underscore the urgency needed to end open defecation, especially for women and girls who are particularly vulnerable. The New York-based event will focus on the WTD 2015 theme: the sanitation and nutrition link. Participants will consider how better sanitation supports better nutrition and improved health, particularly for growing children. More information: http://www.unwater.org/worldtoiletday

Key Facts
For more information please see: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/

  • 6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources since 1990, but 663 million people are still without
  • At least 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated
  • Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using an improved drinking water source has increased from 76 per cent to 91 per cent
  • But water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise. Over 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge
  • 4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines
  • More than 80 per cent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal
  • Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrhoeal diseases
  • Hydropower is the most important and widely-used renewable source of energy and as of 2011, represented 16 per cent of total electricity production worldwide
  • Approximately 70 per cent of all water abstracted from rivers, lakes and aquifers is used for irrigation
  • Floods and other water-related disasters account for 70 per cent of all deaths related to natural disasters

For further analysis, please see UN-Water’s recent report “Eliminating Discrimination and Inequalities in Access to Water and Sanitation”: http://www.unwater.org/publications/publications-detail/en/c/340177/

Multimedia Materials
Videos and sample tweets can be accessed at the Trello board for this month’s theme here:

Sustainable Development Goals Explained: Clean Water and Sanitation
What makes it so difficult for some people to have access to water? Why are there millions of people in the world without access to a toilet? Does this issue only affect developing countries? Water and Sanitation Expert Leanne Burney from UN DESA answers all these questions on Goal 6.


Brazil: The Water and Waste Warrior
Clean and safe water for drinking, cooking and washing is beyond the reach of hundreds of millions – and about a third of the world’s population don’t have access to good sanitation. But the sheer scale of the problem doesn’t stop one woman who’s on a mission to see that everyone has access to this most basic human right.

English | French | Spanish | Arabic | Russian | Chinese

Ethiopia: Access to water, access to education
Projects coordinated by UNICEF and the European Union have brought more than a hundred water points to the Machakel district in Ethiopia.

English | French | Spanish | Arabic | Russian | Chinese

Namibia: The Crisis of Drought
Struggling to survive the severe shortage of food and water, people in Namibia’s Kunene region have no choice but to wait out the worst drought in three decades. UNICEF says over 700,000 people including 109,000 children under the age of five are at risk of malnutrition.

English | French | Spanish | Arabic | Russian | Chinese

Detroit’s water – Not flowing
You can’t live without water – if you’re rich or you’re poor – and that’s the threat facing thousands of people right now in the United States – in Detroit.

English | French

South Africa: Coal’s Lethal Legacy
The world is becoming desperately short of freshwater, threatening our very survival. In South Africa, the country’s water supply is at risk as the nation’s energy needs grow. Blasts and dust clouds from coal mines and their toxic effect on water are a grave threat not only to the health and livelihoods of small farmers nearby, but to millions of South Africans.

English | French

‘Water for Life’ UN-Water Best Practices Award Winners 2015
The annual ‘Water for Life’ Best Practices Award aims to acknowledge and promote efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and related issues by 2015, by recognizing outstanding best practices to ensure sustainable long-term management of water resources.


Africa’s Lake Victoria: Turning the Tide
The struggle to access clean water and basic sanitation is intensifying as the global population reaches seven billion. Overcrowded makeshift settlements are springing up along the world’s lakes and seas at a staggering pace, putting the health of millions under threat. The community of Lake Victoria is taking action to improve water quality and save lives.


Tanzania: The Long Walk for Water
The land is dry around Katikati village in northern Tanzania and water is scarce. The Maasai here travel up to 100 kilometres a day searching for water, and it’s a dangerous journey. But now they know that there is water – 180 meters under their feet. The Tanzanian Government, with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Belgian Fund for Food Security, drilled a borehole, giving the Maasai access to clean water, and a chance to settle in their own community.


Tajikistan: Water In The Wakhan Valley
A failing irrigation system in the mountains of Tajikistan worries farmers who struggle to protect their land and livelihoods. With the help of a sustainable land management project supported by the United Nations and the Global Environment Facility, a network of canals that connect the water source from the Panj river to the farmlands and orchards have been repaired, allowing the people of the town of Ishkashim to preserve their unique environment.


Kenya: Water Scarcity
In Kenya, the International Atomic Energy Agency is helping farmers make the most of limited water resources. Innovative irrigation and nuclear techniques enable communities to grow stronger crops while protecting the environment.


Learn more about the 2015: Time for Global Action campaign.