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Sanitation must be UN priority: Greens

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 16 Sep 2010

Thursday 16 September 2010

The Australian Greens are backing calls for Australia to take a front foot approach to UN’s Millennium Development Goal Summit in New York next week, to see greater international support for the provision of sanitation in the world’s poorest countries.

The WaterAid report ‘Ignored: the biggest child killer – The world is neglecting sanitation’ suggests that the 2015 target to halve the proportion of people living without sanitation will not be met globally until 2049, which the Greens say is simply unacceptable.

Greens spokesperson for Water, Senator Rachel Siewert said today that international cooperation was critical as part of the upcoming reassessment of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

“Sanitation and safe drinking water should be regarded as basic human rights, and global action is needed to see the right aid and the appropriate future developments put in place.

“1.4 million children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unclean water and poor sanitation, as WaterAid indicate in their report, this is more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. We should be doing all we can to reduce this frightening number of avoidable deaths.

“The WHO has found that linking water, sanitation and hygiene solutions can reduce related deaths by 65%, with a $1 investment in sanitation and water leading to a return of $8 to the national economy in the form of increased productivity and a reduced healthcare burden.

“Australia’s move to increase the allocation to water and sanitation programs in our 2010-11 aid budget is very encouraging, and taking a stronger international approach at the UN will encourage increased contributions and participation from countries around the world.

“Targeting aid to real on-the-ground programs is the best way to have a meaningful impact on these problems, with community development and education programs being essential.

“People are dying today from diseases that we can fix if we work together as an international community and this a great opportunity for the UN to lead the way towards meaningful improvements,” Senator Siewert concluded.

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