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08 March 2012

Millennium Development Goal on safe drinking water met

Millennium Development Goal on safe drinking water met

A month after the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) was announced as met – that the number of people who live in extreme poverty has been halved before 2015 - Unicef and the World Health Organization have reported that the number of people who do not have safe access to clean water around the world has also been halved.

Currently 89 per cent of the global population has access to clean drinking water sources, which means that two billion people between 1990 and 2010 gained access to safe drinking water where they didn’t have it before.

Half of these people live in India or China. More than 40 per cent of the 783 million people who still lack access live in sub-Saharan Africa.

There is a also a big disparity between urban and rural areas according to the report, with an estimated 96 per cent of the urban population globally having improved water supply sources, compared with 81 per cent of the rural population.

The clean water target falls under the overall MDG of achieving environmental sustainability. The target to improve basic sanitation, such as access to latrines and hygienic waste collection, is still far from being met.

The report also included the caveat that the data collected only measured access to improved water sources, rather than assessed the quality, or reliability of the water supply, or whether water sources were sustainable. This most likely means that the “number of people using safer water supplies has been overestimated”, according to the report.

Despite these qualifications, the met goal was a cause for celebration. The UN general-secretary Ban-Ki Moon said it was “a great achievement for the people of the world”.

He added: "We have reached an important target, but we cannot stop here. Our next step must be to target the most difficult to reach, the poorest and the most disadvantaged people across the world.

The UN set forth the MDGs in 2000 to halve global poverty by 2015. Six more MDGs remain to be met: achieving universal education; promoting gender inequality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; and developing a global partnership for development.

Micah Challenge is aglobal movement encouraging Christians to be committed to the poor and hold governments accountable for their pledge within the MDGs. Find out more about their work atwww.micahchallenge.org.uk.