Improving access to safe drinking water and decent sanitation worldwide will be critical to resolving many other challenges relating to sustainable development, such as desertification, rural health and ensuring that agriculture in poor countries is more effective, a United Nations official said today.
Aslam Chaudhry, the Chief of the Water and Natural Resources Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York that water in particular was central to the current deliberations of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).
The CSD – a subsidiary of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – is this year assessing the progress made in 72 areas outlined in its water and sanitation agenda in 2005, Mr. Chaudhry said.
He said that dozens of countries have reported to the Commission that they are making significant progress on this front, particularly in their efforts to better regulate and manage their often limited water resources. A water, sanitation and hygiene programme in some 70 countries across Asia and Africa was also reducing the burden of diseases in many nations, for example.
A lack of funding, infrastructure and capacity in poor countries were the main obstacles to further improvements, Mr. Chaudhry said, calling for assistance in all three areas as well as better coordination at the country level.
The annual CSD began meeting last week and has now moved into its high-level phase, which is expected to conclude on Friday.