United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Botswana Chapter of the Global Water Partnership launched the UN Human Development Report last Friday.
The theme of the report addresses the challenges posed by what it terms a “global water crisis that affects 1.1 billion people around the world who lack access to adequate and clean water, and 2.6 billion who lack access to adequate sanitation.”
According to the press release, the key messages from the report are that water is a basic need and affordable access to clean water a fundamental human right. The report also pointed out that there is a silent water crisis that hardly makes the headlines but is holding back human development and consigning millions of people to lives of poverty, diseases, vulnerability, insecurity and indignity.
The report provided the evidence that some 1.8 million children die from diarrhea each year at the rate of 4, 900 deaths per day as a result of lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation. It also stated that millions of women spend up to four hours daily collecting water. This burden of water crisis is borne more by women and girls, who are the ones who give up their time on schooling to fetch water for the household.
The report highlighted that unless the water crisis is met, the Millennium Development Goals will be difficult to achieve. The nation will also have to draw up national strategies to accelerate progress towards universal and affordable access to clean water and adequate sanitation. The report urges the government to aim to spend a minimum of one percent GDP on equitable access to water and sanitation.
As a country enduring water related stress, one in which rainfall and inadequate underground water resources are undermining rural livelihoods and destroying wealth on a large scale, Botswana should have an active interest in this report. According to this report, water nourishes not only human lives but economic activity as well because it helps the environment retain its capacity to support life and ‘power’ industry. Without water, the report stated, it would be difficult to expand the economy, create jobs and reduce poverty.