UNDP Human Development Report (2006)

On November 9th 2006 the UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) presented the Human Development Report 2006 (HDR), entitled: ‘Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis’.
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The report calls to take urgently more action to realise the Millennium Development Goal 7 target 10 about water and sanitation. The 2015 horizon is lying less then ten years ahead! Water must figure higher on the political agenda and should become a principal strategy in Poverty Reduction Plans. International aid should al least double to meet these goals.
The lack of clean water and sanitation causes 1.8 million child deaths every year and is a major constraint in (economic) development.

According to the UNDP-report there is a lot of talking about these problems, but too little concrete action is taken. To change this we need a global action plan which better coordinates the efforts and puts the theme higher on the agenda. The G8 should support this plan in an active way.

The report proposes the following urgent actions to tackle this crisis:

  • Recognize drinking water as a human right. Everyone should have at least 20 litres of clean water a day and free of charge for those who are too poor to pay (as a comparison: Belgians use 110 litres a day). Water scarcity is in this case a very bad excuse, because there is enough fresh water nearly everywhere on our planet to give everyone access to 20 litres of safe drinking water. The report stresses the imbalance between people who live in cities on the one hand and people who live on the countryside and in slums on the other hand: the latter pay 5 to 10 times more for water than the wealthier people in the cities. Poor families from e.g. Jamaica, Nicaragua and El Salvador must spend 10% of their income to water and we less than 1%. This is fundamentally unfair.
  • Every country must make the necessary (financial) efforts for water and sanitation. Governments of countries in the South pay too little attention to water and sanitation. In Africa f.i. public spending for water and sanitation makes up only 0.5% of the GDP. In Ethiopia military spending is ten times higher than the budget for water, in Pakistan 47 times. The report states that water and sanitation should be more important in poverty reduction strategy papers and they should invest at least 1% of their GDP in it.
  • We need a more important international commitment and a plan to stop the water crisis. In addition to the current 3 billion US $ the report calls for an extra annual international aid of 3.4 billion to $4 billion. Combined with the intensified efforts of the developing countries, there should be an extra $10 billion made available to reach the Millennium Development Goal everywhere and to catch up the current arrears in Africa. In comparison: 10 billion $ is the equivalent of less than five days of global military spending.
  • Poor farmers are confronted with a double water crisis: local water scarcity caused by climate change and ever more competition for the available fresh water between the (municipal) population, the industry and (industrial) agriculture. The ones who have the weakest rights – the small farmers and women – risk to loose the battle. Clearer rights for the poor farmers, more efficient irrigation and adaptation schemes to handle climate change are necessary.

The report states also very clearly that investing in water and sanitation in the South has a major influence on all other Millennium Development Goals. It was calculated that $1 invested in water generates $8 through better health and as a consequence less medical costs, higher productivity due to less illnesses, better education due to less time needed by children to fetch water, more time to exploit agricultural and other economic activities …

This report reflects very clearly what PROTOS has already been stating for quite some time:

PROTOS fully supports the Millennium Development Goals!
To obtain them, is
Water; THE lever for development
PROTOS wants:

  • Water management to be equitable, participatory, and sustainable.
  • The government to guarantee the right to water for everyone.
  • Water users and local governments to play a key role in planning and managing the water systems.
  • The international community to show more solidarity with local processes in the South.
  • The financial resources at least to double worldwide.

Download a summary of the Human Development Report 2006: Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis ( PDF 1.7 MB)

More information on the  website http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/


What are our demands at the Belgian level?

In 2004 only 6% of the international aid budget went to water and sanitation. That 6% was achieved to a large extent by multilateral support and specific US support for rebuilding water systems in Jordan, Iraq and Palestine.

International aid for water and sanitation was even less than 10 years ago, when it was 8%.

The trend of the last years in the Belgian development cooperation is that it contributes annually 11 to 19 million $ to investments in water and sanitation in the South (this is more or less only 1% of  the ODA Official Development Aid). Neighbouring countries like Germany, The Netherlands and France allocate a larger part (1.4 to 3.8%) of their development budget to water and sanitation (respectively US$ 284 million, $73 million and $122 million in 2004).

So we urge that Belgium realises the 0.7% of the GDP to development cooperation and that water and sanitation is given higher priority in our policy and budget at the federal but also at the regional level.

An important part for water and sanitation that at minimum equals the international average of 6%, is the least we can do to express our solidarity with the South, and…. investing in water and sanitation is THE best strategy for social and economic development.

“If we do not reach the targets for water and sanitation, all hope is immediately lost to reach all other development goals”, says the Human Development Report 2006.



www.oecd.org/ March 2006 WWF Mexico

" water maakt vrij - l'eau, un droit naturel - water powers people - agua por la vida "

PROTOS 24/11/06