World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today at the Sanitation and Water for All ministers meeting called on world leaders to take urgent action to provide access to basic sanitation services for their citizens, as a means to fight poverty. The remarks come ahead of the IMF-WBG Spring Meetings.
“We’re here today to act to prevent millions of needless deaths of people – most of them poor children – who die because of a lack of sanitation,” said Kim.
An estimated 2.5 billion people do not have access to functioning toilets or sanitary means of disposing human feces. This includes the 1 billion people who practice open defecation near rivers and fields, spreading germs from human waste through food, water and washing of clothes.
The resulting diarrheal disease accounts for thousands of children dying every day, among countless other negative impacts like child stunting. The economic impacts from morbidity, health, environment and industry losses are equally staggering. And, despite almost 1.9 billion people gaining access to toilets or latrines since 1990, sanitation remains one of the most off-track Millennium Development Goals globally.
Kim noted that reaching the Bank Group’s goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the poorest 40%, cannot be achieved without fixing sanitation, which is directly linked to poverty.
“The World Bank Group is committed to doing our part, both in financing and improving delivery,” said Kim. “Our newly appointed Senior Director of the Water Practice, Junaid Ahmad, will be working closely with all of you to develop a plan for sustained global focus and commitment towards sanitation and water for all. We’ll work with leaders on a “whole-of-government” approach -- teaming up with Ministers of Education to put sanitation facilities in every school; with Ministers of Health to add sanitation to health and nutrition programs; and with Ministers of Agriculture, the Environment, and Urban Planning to include basic sanitation in environmental and urban planning and social programs that target the poor.
He said the WBG will strengthen its role in creating and sharing knowledge, working with public and private sector partners, and civil society. He added that the experience of NGOs like BRAC in Bangladesh and the Kenya Water for Health Organization can give greater insight.
Kim also noted the United Nations has laid important groundwork to raise global awareness and set goals around this critical issue. He said the UN and World Bank Group will leverage our combined strength and align with organizations like WaterAid, Toilet Hackers, Global Poverty Project, ONE DROP, and others.
Kim added that the World Bank Group will broaden stakeholder engagement, including with leaders from the private sector, who are eager to understand their piece of the science of service delivery. The World Bank Group is already in discussions with companies about how private sector financing and knowledge can be mobilized to improve sanitation.
Over the last seven years, the World Bank Group has committed an average of over US$3 billion a year to water and sanitation services. It is the largest multilateral financier for water and sanitation.
Nowhere is the situation more urgent than in Africa. In Tanzania, the World Bank’s $200 million financing for the Government’s Water Sector Development Program also supports urban and rural sanitation. “Ensuring sustainable access to improved sanitation and safe water supply is a crucial ingredient of success for the Government of Tanzania’s effort to alleviate poverty, improve productivity and stimulate growth.
The World Bank remains steadfast in our continuing support to an inclusive growth agenda as well as improving the sanitation sector’s performance. I am convinced that through strong partnerships and commitment such as this, we can make a difference,” says Philippe Dongier, the World Bank Country Director for Tanzania. “This will no doubt lay the foundations for the government's longer term vision of having an additional 20 million people gain access to improved sanitation by 2025.