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Founder : Len Abrams
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Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council

Press Release 22 Nov. 2000
Almost Half the World's People Have No Acceptable Means of Sanitation

New WHO/UNICEF Report Charts “Shameful” State of World's Water Supply and Sanitation Services

Despite tremendous efforts in the last two decades to provide improved water and sanitation services for the poor in the developing world, today, 2.4 billion people world-wide still do not have any acceptable means of sanitation, while 1.1 billion people do not have an improved1 water supply.

These are just two of the major findings from The Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000, launched today by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The Assessment is being launched as 500 public health, water and sanitation experts meeting in Brazil call on the world to roll-out a major effort—VISION 21—to correct the “shameful” water and sanitation situation that plagues millions of people in developing countries.

The Assessment has found that2:

“Access to safe water and to sanitary means of excreta disposal are universal needs and, indeed, basic human rights. They are essential elements of human development and poverty alleviation and constitute an indispensable component of primary health care,” write WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy in the introduction to the Report.

Yet the Assessment makes clear that many people are being deprived of this right. It has further found that:

“It is shameful, a scandal that almost half of the world's population does not have access to adequate sanitation,” said Dr Richard Jolly, Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a Geneva-based international organization for water supply and sanitation professionals.

Consequently, beginning 24 November, in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, 500 water and sanitation experts are meeting to agree on a worldwide programme to address this situation, based on the VISION 21 “Water for People” initiative. VISION 21, launched in March 2000 (see background note attached), aims to:

“In the Indian State of Gujarat, for example, we have shown that rolling out water and sanitation services according to the precepts of VISION 21 has had a dramatic impact on the health and well-being of the state's citizens. It is also bringing down the costs of improved water and sanitation services and mobilizing local resources to handle local problems,” according to Dr Jolly.

Under the theme “Vision 21: From Shared Vision to Shared Action”, the Global Forum in Foz do Iguacu is being hosted by the Government of Brazil and the State of Parana, with the cooperation of the Inter-American Association of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering (AIDIS) and secretariat assistance of the Brazilian Association of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering (ABES).

Note for journalists: the WSSCC and VISION 21

The Geneva, Switzerland-based WSSCC is an independent, international organization for water supply and sanitation professionals, with more than 1,000 members in 130 countries. At the Brazil meeting—the Fifth Global Forum of the WSSCC—participants from more than 100 countries will develop implementation programmes based on experiences in India and in 20 other countries where VISION 21 has been tested.

VISION 21 was launched by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) at the Second World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference in The Hague in March 2000 and is now rolling out in different parts of the world.

In the Indian State of Gujarat, for example, empowered citizens’ groups will be the driving force in a major campaign to combat drought and water scarcity. The VISION 21 process of people-centred planning has developed into a State-wide action plan, in which Government has accepted the role of facilitator and is creating a new Gujarat Water Authority with strong stakeholder participation.

According to the WSSCC, VISION 21 presents the first real opportunity to make substantial inroads into the water and sanitation backlog by mobilizing people's own energy and initiative. At the Global Forum, donors, NGOs, resource centres, UN and other external support agencies will join community representatives, local authorities and government agencies from all continents to work out how they can collaborate more effectively to reach the agreed goals.

For more information on these events and to arrange interviews, please contact: Ms. Eirah Gorre-Dale, WSSCC, Cellphone No (+1 914) 309-5491; Tel.+(4122) 791 3544;Fax:+(4122) 791 4847; E-mail: eirah.gorre-dale@undp.org
In Rio de Janeiro, she can be reached through Ms. Juliana Iootty, UNIC at Tel.+(55 21) 253-2211; Fax: +(55 21) 233-5753; E-mail: jiootty@unicrio.org.br
In Foz do Iguacu, c/o Rafain Palace Hotel, at Tel.+(55 45) 526-3434; Fax.+(55 45)526-3030).


1 The term “improved” is based on the technology used, such as house connections, protected wells, standpipes, etc., to deliver water to a household. This means that, for example, a person does not have to go to a river or have water delivered by a tanker in order to have access to water. However, access through these technologies is not an assurance of water quality. The likelihood is that a significant number of those counted as “served” may nevertheless be obtaining contaminated water.
2 All data collected will be made available on the WHO and UNICEF websites, so that users can make their own analysis according to their specific needs. For the first time, the situation in industrialized countries is presented alongside that in developing countries.


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