Global Goal 6 is arguably the most important of the 17 global goals. Why? Because it was the most off-track of the Millennium Development Goals (You know, those goals that guided the last 15 years of international development).
Here are some stats to put things into perspective:
- The global MDG target for improved sanitation facilities was missed by almost 700 million people
- 663 million people still do not have access to improved sources of drinking water
- An estimated 2.4 billion people use unimproved sanitation facilities
- 946 million practice open defecation
Pretty depressing, huh? Instead of getting weighed down by these stats, the global community can, and will, work together to make water and sanitation a priority over the next 15 years. Need a little inspiration? Check out the above video message from water and sanitation advocate Matt Damon, Co-Founder of Water.org (He’s currently starring in the new Mars movie “The Martian,” a place notoriously in need of improved water and sanitation.)
Just in case Matt Damon wasn't enough for you (said nobody, ever), here are three more reasons to make water and sanitation (WASH) a global priority:
1. Investing in WASH makes sense economically:
- Eliminating open defecation would yield $64 USD for every dollarspent. Not to mention save 15 minutes a day for people who would be able to stop open defecation, oh and most importantly it would save 80,000 lives a year.
- Providing better access to water for 2.3 billion people would have benefits to society worth $46 USD for every dollar spent, and reaching 3 billion people with basic sanitation would have benefits worth $37 per dollar spent.
- Providing water and sanitation for everyone would cost around $45 billion annually. Each year there would be 170,000 fewer deaths from contaminated water. This mostly affects children.
2. Improving access to WASH will help to close the gender gap between men and women.
- Surveys from 45 developing countries show that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households. This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family members, or attending school.
- What’s more, when a girl cannot properly manage her menstruation due to inadequate access to WASH, she can be forced to stay home from school for up to a week at a time each month. This puts her at an unfair disadvantage to her male counterparts, while also robbing her of a proper education.
- Imagine what would happen if these women and children were freed from the burdens placed on them by poor sanitation and contaminated water? They would be able to obtain an education, which would then increase their chances of getting a job and providing for themselves and their family, putting them on par with their male counterparts.
3. Children will be better able to survive and thrive.
- Water and sanitation related diseases remain are top killers for children under 5; nearly 1,000 children die every day from diarrhoeal diseases linked to poor WASH conditions, like inadequate hygiene and handwashing.
- As a result of poor WASH conditions, 161 million children are stunted and suffer irreversible physical and cognitive damage, which inevitably impacts schoo. performance and future earnings.
For many people, water and sanitation are taken for granted--they’re just fundamental parts of life.
But for billions of others, water and sanitation are constant problems that are major obstacles in the pursuit of a happy life. It shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be this way.
Wondering what you can do to further global goal 6? You can start by sharing the above video and getting the word out about the importance of water and sanitation.
You can also help to ensure that hygiene and handwashing—both important development indicators—are prioritized in the Global Goals by going to TAKE ACTION NOW and signing a petition.