More than four billion people globally do not have access to safely managed sanitation services, three billion individuals lack access to basic handwashing facilities and nearly 10% of the world's population practice open defecation currently. On 17 November, the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund will be launched during an online event and over the coming five years will be seeking US$2 billion to provide a 21st-century solution to the decades-old crisis on sanitation, hygiene and menstrual health.
Hiroyuki Saito, head of Corporate Communications and Advocacy at the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, says the fund will bring about change and drive transformation by raising and investing the necessary funding, while financing programmes that produce large-scale, measurable results. He says the team at the fund will deliver a fundamental social and human right to millions who have been robbed of their dignity.
“Many of the world’s most serious diseases and leading causes of child mortality are related directly to poor sanitation and hygiene. Yet, there has been considerable under-investment in this sector for many years and this has hampered progress on the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Saito.
According to the spokesperson, the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened existing inequalities as masks are too expensive or hard to find, and social distancing is impossible in many of the vulnerable communities. He says the lack of proper sanitation and hygiene adds to the risks to life and livelihood for the world’s most disadvantaged, threatening the foundations of economies and health security.
During the online event, Amina J. Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, will highlight the case for global investment in sanitation and hygiene. Zeinab Badawi, international broadcaster, will moderate the event which will be streamed on the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund website and its YouTube channel.
Speakers that will feature include Yemi Osinbajo, vice president of Nigeria, Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF and Grete Faremo, executive director of the Office for Project Services at the United Nations. Further speakers will include Gilbert Houngbo, chair of UN-Water and president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development; Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, deputy director-general of the World Health Organization and Dominic O’Neill, executive director of the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund.