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General News
Poor pay more for water than the rich 3/18/2007
Accra, March 18, GNA- Though the richest of the world have greater access to clean water and decent sanitation than the poorest do, the poorest paid more for water and sanitation than the richest, the United National Human Development Report (HDR) 2006 said.
"One out of every five persons in the developing world, especially sub-Saharan Africa lack access to clean water and one in every two persons lack access to decent sanitation and yet they pay 10 times more than what rich households pay for water," the report stated. The account, made available to the Ghana News Agency by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ghana Office, noted that as much as 85 per cent of the richest 20 per cent of the world had access to affordable portable water, whiles only 25 per cent of the poorest 20 per cent had access. It said consequently, productivity losses linked to water and sanitation in poor developing countries, which amounted to two per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the figure rose to five per cent of GDP in West African countries, according to the. The report therefore, described the situation as perverse saying, "water pricing reflects a simple perverse principle; the poorer you are the more you pay." It said at least 1.4 billion people who lack access to good sanitation lived on less than two US dollars a day and therefore could simply not afford decent sanitation. The report was captured under two broad themes; "Water for life, Water for livelihoods" and was focused in its entirety on water and sanitation. It discussed six main areas; namely, the crisis of water and sanitation, water for human consumption, the sanitation deficits, water and agriculture, trans-boundary waters, and water, vulnerability and risk. Surveys conducted during the constitution of the report indicated that not a single person in the developed world lacked access to clean water and decent sanitation. Also, the problem of children falling sick or losing school days due to water and sanitation related problems were absolutely non-existent.

On the contrary, as much as 1.1 billion person lacked access to portable water and 2.6 lacked good sanitation in the developing world.'' This resulted in 1.8 million children dying out of diarrhoea, 443 million schools days lost to water and sanitation related illnesses and an additional 150 million children suffering from retarded learning potential due to parasitic infections transmitted through water and sanitation every year, the reported said. "Unclean water and poor sanitation have claimed more lives in the past century than any other cause in the developing world," the reported said. The report noted that in developing countries, the issue had been with the poor performance of public and private sector partnerships in the generation and management of portable water for human consumption. It said in most developing countries, public-private partnerships had been lumped under the one heading "privatisation" with little or no regulation from the public, adding that regulation was necessary to ensure the realization of human right to water. The report cited former UN Secretary-General, Busumuru Kofi Annan as saying that ""access to clean water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right," and it was not therefore justifiable for such a huge chunk of the world''s population to lack access to clean water. The reported noted that sanitation in particular had not been prominent in the policy agenda of most developing countries, adding that households also perceived sanitation as a public amenity and therefore, a public responsibility other than that of individual households. Additionally there was a supply barrier, which was as a result of the fact that in most developing countries, products were usually designed without reference to community needs and priorities and delivered through unaccountable government agencies giving rise to low uptake rates. Mr. Emmanuel Otoo, Programmes Officer in charge of Human Development at the UNDP, noted that attitudes to water and sanitation needed to change at both the household, national and global levels in order to bridge the huge global water divide. He noted that even though the developing world was on the receiving end of the deficits, the condition posed a threat to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals on the global level and therefore demanded a global approach.


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