G77 Chair Advocates for Sanitation
Speaking in Fiji’s capacity as 2013 Chair of the Group of 77 and China, Fijian Ambassador Peter Thomson, today addressed the United Nations on the importance of giving prominence to improved sanitation in the global Post-2015 Development Agenda. The focus in New York today on sanitation was due to 19th November being designated by the United Nations as “World Toilet Day”.
Ambassador Thomson said it was disheartening to know that despite progress in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, there remain 2.5 billion people in developing countries who still lack access to improved sanitation facilities. As a result he said that around 1.1 billion people are still obliged to practice open defecation, with all the negative associations of inadequate hygiene, health problems, water contamination and lack of human dignity.
Fiji’s Ambassador advised the United Nations that improved sanitation was directly related to the worldwide challenge of providing communities with safe drinking water. He said that lack of adequate sanitation facilities in many developing countries has constrained school attendance and exposed women and girls to security issues.
He said that the Group of 77 acknowledged the work of those promoting and undertaking WASH programmes (water supply, sanitation and hygiene) in developing countries. He said that the success of South-South cooperation in this area was also a positive feature to build upon and that successful experiences of South-South cooperation in improving sanitation should be learnt from and replicated.
In the approach to the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Ambassador Thomson said, “If we are to mitigate the great health risks that loom from rapid urbanization and burgeoning population growth, we must accept the imperative of providing access to improved water and sanitation services.” He urged the United Nations community to advocate for improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation, for by doing so they would be, “working towards the many positive outcomes in health, gender equality, economic prosperity and personal dignity that will surely result.”