On World Water Day 2011, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has urged governments around the world to recognize the urban water crisis as one of governance, weak policies, and poor management, rather than a crisis of scarcity.
Ban Ki–moon has asked governments to reverse the alarming decline in poor investment in water and sanitation, and to reaffirm the commitment to ending the plight of the over 800 million people in the world who do not have access to safe drinking water or sanitation.
The UN chief maintains that along with food and energy, water is one of the biggest challenges the world faces, and that without water there can be no dignity or way out of poverty. Even so, many countries have dropped behind on the Millennium Development Goal target for water and sanitation.
The theme of World Water Day 2011 is “Water for Cities”. He points out that in the coming decades, 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities and towns. A lot of this increase in urbanization is taking place in slums and squatter settlements in the developing world.
Urbanization brings with it opportunities for improved water management and access to drinking water and sanitation, he asserts, but if there are problems they are also amplified in cities. Water problems are currently overtaking our ability to come up with adequate solutions.
An estimated 114 million more people over the past decade do not have access to a water tap in their home or immediate vicinity. It’s a similar story with lack of proper sanitation, as that number has risen by 134 million.
What’s more, the poorest people often have no choice but to buy water at inflated prices, compare to wealthier people who get piped city water. It’s an issue of equity as much as sustainability and health.
Through his High–Level Panel of Global Sustainability and UN-Water, Ban Ki–moon says he aims to examine ways to connect the dots in water, energy and food security, to attempt to reduce poverty and inequality, generate jobs and minimize environmental stress and climate change risks.