“Even now, eight years after our civil war ended, Liberia faces a huge uphill battle,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf writes in a Washington Post opinion piece, adding that “[w]ith support from the United States, we have been able to make progress. â€¦ It is critical that this aid continues in next year’s budget.”
Water and Sanitation
IRIN examines access to water and sanitation in Zambia, where “only 58 percent of Zambians have access to adequate sanitation and 13 percent lack any kind of toilet,” according to a 2008 study by the local non-governmental organization Water and Sanitation Forum.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “triggered a political controversy last week when he implicitly declared that even human rights have a market price,” Inter Press Service reports, noting Ban “admitted it is not acceptable that poor slum-dwellers pay five or even 10 times as much for their water as wealthy residents of the same cities.”
UNICEF last week said it “faces a shortfall of more than $50 million to meet the continuing critical needs” of children in Pakistan, one year after monsoon floods submerged nearly one-fifth of the country, the U.N. News Centre reports (7/29).
The Economist in its current issue examines cholera, including the disease’s history, current outbreaks, and research into vaccines and sanitation. “Not all human waste has the deadly bacterium; but all of it is dangerous and better disposal of feces would go a huge way to stopping cholera and other deadly intestinal diseases,” the magazine writes (7/30).
“A UNICEF official says a cholera outbreak in Congo has killed 279 people and infected more than 4,000 others in the last four months,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (7/27). According to the VOA’s “Breaking News” blog, “[a] cholera outbreak has been declared in four provinces with northeastern Orientale province showing the most cases.” The WHO last week expressed concern that the disease could spread along the Congo River, according to the blog (7/27).
One year after the U.N. General Assembly “adopted a resolution declaring that safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right,” top U.N. officials on Wednesday “stressed the need to realize the human right to water and sanitation, stating that it is critical not only to a life of dignity but also to achieving progress in the areas such as poverty reduction, boosting child health and combating diseases,” the U.N. News Centre reports (7/27). Nearly 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water, and more than one million children die each year because of diseases such as cholera that are transmitted by contaminated water, Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C notes (Krafczyk, 7/27).
According to the Haitian government, more than 5,800 people have died of cholera since the epidemic began in October, and health care workers have seen an increase in cases “[w]ith the rainy season now in progress,” the Los Angeles Times reports (Gaestel, 7/24).
Rwanda “is one of only four countries in Africa which look set to achieve Millennium Development Goal 7 to ensure environmental sustainability, which includes halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation,” Inter Press Service reports in an article examining hygiene and sanitation in the country. The other three countries are Mozambique, Ghana and Sierra Leone, the news service notes.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Tuesday that it plans to invest millions of dollars in projects aimed at improving sanitation in the developing world, the Guardian reports (Ford, 7/19).