The United Nations Office for Project Services launched a new global funding mechanism on Tuesday to support programs aimed at making sanitation and hygiene accessible to all.
The objective of the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund is the public-private investment of 2 billion dollars over the next five years to provide a solution to the long-standing crisis in the area of sanitation, hygiene and menstrual health.
The Fund will help countries with the least capacity to respond to this crisis and will have four strategic goals:
- Expand domestic sanitation.
- Guarantee menstrual health and hygiene.
- Provide sanitation and hygiene services in schools and sanitary facilities.
- Support innovative sanitation solutions.
During the presentation of the new Fund, the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations advocated for increased investment so that the entire population has these basic services.
"Sanitation and hygiene are fundamental first, because it is about human dignity, and second because it is a health problem," said Amina Mohammed.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the vital role of sanitation and hygiene in preventing the spread of disease and has also highlighted the great inequalities that exist in access to these services.
The Fund's executive director, Dominic O'Neill, recalled that money well used can drive positive and lasting change.
"This is not just a fight to improve health: it is a fight for respect and human rights, as well as for the end of stigma," he said.
According to UN data, half of the world's population does not have access to safe sanitation:
- 620 million children attend schools without toilets
- 1 in 3 schools does not even have basic sanitation and hygiene services
- 1 in 5 health establishments does not have any sanitation service
This lack of services costs about $ 222 billion a year in lost productivity, increased health spending, and economic output.
The executive director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) also participated in the virtual launch of the new financing mechanism, who affirmed that sanitation and hygiene provide stability to children.
Henrietta Fore asked how a child can cope with not having a bathroom at home during confinement. "This is particularly difficult for girls and women," he emphasized.
She added that good sanitation has to be a public good. "Governments must recognize that sanitation is a problem they must solve and that there are ways to solve it," Fore said.
The Sustainable Development Goals propose to guarantee clean water and sustainable sanitation for all the inhabitants of the planet by 2030; however, at the current rate, that goal would be reached until the next century.
The lack of investment in this sector during the last decades has had a profound negative impact on the health, education and economic performance of countries and communities.
In this sense, world leaders agree on the need for large-scale investments to reverse this situation.
The deputy director of the World Health Organization, Zsuzsanna Jakab, considered that the Fund will be key to catalyzing national investment and cited the profitability of financing sanitation and hygiene projects.
"The economic benefits of sanitation are roughly five times the cost, and the cost of inaction is much higher", he said.
Specialist in Social Networks of the Higher Organization of Business Management Water and Sanitation. Writer in spare time and computer engineer, from time to time.