Ministers from Nepal and nearly 50 other countries have pledged to strengthen efforts to bring water, basic toilets and hygiene to their people following the Sanitation and Water for All High-Level Meeting in Washington, DC, USA, on 11 April.
The meeting was opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
“Achieving sanitation and water for all may not be cost-free – but it will set people free. Access to sanitation and water means a child free of disease, a woman free of the back-breaking chore to fetch water, a girl free to attend school without fear, a village free of cholera, and a world of greater equality and dignity for all,” Ban Ki-moon said.
Around 20 countries promised to provide all citizens with access to safe water, basic toilets and hygiene by 2030. Another 17 countries pledged to eliminate open defecation in their countries by 2030.
At present 12% of people in Nepal do not have access to safe drinking water, and 38% are without basic sanitation. Nearly 10,500 children in Nepal under the age of five die each year of diarrhoeal diseases because they don’t have access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
Nepal has pledged to deliver universal access to safe drinking water, basic toilets and hygiene by 2017, and made four other specific commitments, to reform its water and sanitation sector, to accelerate efforts to end open defecation, to improve financing and to focus on keeping programs and facilities functional and sustainable.
At the present rate of progress still two thirds of the VDCs and three fourths of the municipalities have to be declared open defecation free. To meet the universal access by 2017 accelerated efforts have to be made at all levels.
Ashutosh Tiwari, Country Representative at WaterAid Nepal said: “WaterAid welcomes our government’s commitments at the High Level Meeting to provide safe water and sanitation. What is crucial now will be action to deliver those promises. A child dies every minute from this health crisis. Safe water, basic toilets and proper hand-washing with soap can save those lives.”
At the last High-Level Meeting in 2012, Nepal made 17 commitments toward increasing access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Nepal’s government has made good progress on six of its commitments, and slow progress on a further two, but there was no data available on the remaining nine commitments according to the Sanitation and Water for All partnership.
According to a press release issued by WaterAid Nepal, the High Level Meeting of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership brings together a coalition of more than 90 partners including developing countries, aid-donor countries, and organizations such as the World Bank and UNICEF. WaterAid is a founding partner.