The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is stressing the importance of providing clean water and sanitation for the poor in urban centres.
In an appeal made on World Habitat Day, October 6, he noted that “at least one billion people suffer from the dangers and indignities associated with the lack of clean water and adequate sanitation.” He said that in Africa 150 million people lack a good water supply and 180 million lack decent sanitation. In Asia the corresponding figures are 700 million and 800 million, and in Latin America, 120 million and 150 million.
Annan called for society to devote more financial aid to providing this infrastructure: “Increased investment is critical, whether small-scale projects at the local level or national efforts to build up essential infrastructure.”
Annan noted that urban environments are among the worst for human health. He also said that as much as half of the urban water supply could be wasted through leakage or poor administration, and placed emphasis on management strategies, improved efficiency and raising the income of local water authorities.