The numbers are in: Water is key to poverty reduction and health

The numbers are in: Water is key to poverty reduction and health.
Today, on World Water Day, we are humbled by the fact that over 663 million people on the planet still live without access to safe drinking water; 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.
New findings from the WASH PD initiative (led by the World Bank Water Global Practice in collaboration with Poverty, Governance, and Health, Nutrition, and Population) for the first time advances our understanding in a systematic manner of the relationship between poverty and WASH at the country level.
Our deep analysis of 18 countries—across six regions—provides us with new evidence of realities that must be acknowledged, and shows without a doubt that we must work together across sectors if we are to find solutions with sustained impacts on the ground.
Quick facts from around the world: In Mozambique, 90 percent of the poorest mothers lack access to antenatal care and 90 percent of underweight mothers only have access to unimproved sanitation In Nigeria, 61 percent of the rural population lives more than 30 minutes away – and 34% lives more than 2 hours away – from a functioning water source In Tajikistan, households in the Sugd Region report getting piped water 1 day per week In Pakistan, despite improvements to nutritious food, reductions in open defecation and poverty, childhood stunting has stayed constant at 43 percent.
Construction of unimproved toilets and persistent water quality issues are not helping reduce this burden In Indonesia, it is estimated that only 5 percent of urban wastewater is safely treated and disposed In Tunisia, the richest 20 percent of households receive an estimated 27 percent of water subsidies, while the bottom 20 percent of households receive only 11 percent of the subsidies In Ecuador, 93 percent of people in urban areas and 76 percent in rural areas has improved access to water services but still, 24 percent of the rural population drinks contaminated water What we’re learning is telling: Our initiative reveals critical gaps in policy, or between policy and implementation, which leads to poor service delivery.
Working with Governance colleagues at the World Bank is stretching us beyond our water sector lens, and it is becoming abundantly clear that service delivery is many times hindered by inter-governmental fiscal and administrative systems and the interplay with politics.
This may not come as a surprise to those who work with these issues on the ground, but now we have the numbers to prove it.
Children living in city slums are 5 times less likely to have access to improved sanitation and also 1.5 times more likely to be stunted than other inhabitants in Dhaka.
The constraints are clearly not only technical in nature – the challenges are many times administrative or political.

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