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Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

Why SDG 6 matters

The benefits of access to water, sanitation and hygiene cannot be underestimated. Satisfying the physical need for a safe drinking water source is the most immediate advantage of gaining access.

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Human Rights

Access to water and sanitation are recognized by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basic needs in every person’s life. Lack of access to safe, sufficient and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity and prosperity of billions of people, and has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights, and for social and economic development.

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A large financing gap has been identified as one of the greatest barriers to achieving the water, sanitation and hygiene-related targets of the SDGs.

Money is needed not only for the construction of water, sanitation and waste infrastructure but also for the people and the institutions that maintain and expand services to a growing population.

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Access to water, sanitation and hygiene takes on particular importance for women and girls given their traditional role as stewards of household water and managers of household sanitation, their reproductive and menstrual health needs, and their role in caring for home, children and elderly and/or sick relatives.

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A growing body of evidence indicates that access to safe drinking-water, sanitation, and hygiene has an important positive impacton nutrition. People who suffer from food and nutrition insecurity are often the same who lack access to water, sanitation and hygiene, leaving them in extremely vulnerable situations and reducing their chances of living healthy and productive lives.

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Climate Change

Water, sanitation and hygiene are critical for socio-economic development, food security, healthy environments and are vital for reducing the global burden of disease and improving the health, welfare and productivity of populations.

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The elimination of inequalities is one of SWA’s Guiding Principles, and is also critical for realising the human rights to water and sanitation and all other human rights. Further, the principle of eliminating inequalities or ‘leave no one behind’ is at the core of the SDGs.

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