WASH and Millennium Development Goals - The Ripple Effect

Water for South Sudan operates in the WASH arena- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. We are pleased to share blog posts from the WASH Advocates blog series on how WASH relates to the Millennium Development Goals. 

This post first appeared on March 23, 2015.

2015 is an important year in the global development arena. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will expire at the end of this year, and the new agenda for international development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will be determined and launched. This is an important time to focus on keeping the momentum going, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are important pieces of the puzzle. WASH Advocates is pleased to announce our new blog series, "WASH and the MDGs: The Ripple Effect." Every week we will feature a guest author from various sectors and organizations who will focus on each of the MDGs. Throughout this blog series we will explore the goals and highlight how WASH has impacted the achievement of the targets under each goal.

Much progress has been made towards achieving the MDGs, but there is a great deal of work still to be done. As this year comes to a close, the UN will evolve the MDGs into Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This time around, we as a global society are more knowledgeable about what the world needs. The SDGs will be greater in number, more inclusive and more multi-faceted. We are more equipped to do things right and to achieve the targets and goals. The time is ripe for transformation, for progress and for forward-thinking. WASH is foundational to development and should be at the forefront of achieving all of these goals.

Since the adoption of the MDGs, maternal and child mortality rates have decreased significantly, but many are still dying of preventable diseases. WASH linkages are essential to maternal and child survival as well as health. Diarrheal disease, caused by lack of WASH, is a leading cause of death in children and a major contributing factor to undernutrition. The same can be said for WASH and HIV/AIDS. WASH significantly reduces diarrheal episodes in people living with HIV/AIDS and allows medications to work much more effectively.

Although school enrollment rates have increased for children in the developing world,58 million children of primary school age are still out of school. While the gender gap has narrowed worldwide, girls remain underrepresented and are less likely to complete their basic education compared to boys. A number of factors can play into this, but often what is keeping girls out of school is as simple as not having a separate toilet for them to feel comfortable and safe. Lack of WASH in schools is also detrimental to the health of school children. Hand-washing campaigns are being encouraged worldwide to keep kids healthy and in school, but more support is needed. As is said, prevention is the best form of response.

Water is life, and sanitation and hygiene are the basis of health. Yet worldwide, 748 million people don't have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people don't have basic sanitation. Each MDG can be advanced by greater inclusion of proper WASH practices, and there is more work to be done. If we want to truly tackle the world's biggest problems, we must work together using a comprehensive approach -- one that realizes that collaboration is the cornerstone of success.

This blog post is part of the "WASH and the MDGs: The Ripple Effect" blog series, in partnership with WASH Advocates, addressing the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to global development. To see all the other posts in the series, click here. To learn more about WASH, visit the WASH Advocates website, and for more information about the Millennium Development Goals, click here.