Journal Article

Liquid Dynamics: Rethinking Sustainability in Water and Sanitation

Published on 1 January 2009

Recurring floods and droughts, the prevalence of waterborne diseases and the mounting sanitation problems of booming (peri)urban centres illustrate the devastating impacts of what the 2006 Human Development Report has called a crisis in water and sanitation (UNDP 2006). Essential for all aspects of life, health, wellbeing and productivity, the importance of water and sanitation has been recognised in the Millennium Development Goal of environmental sus-tainability. Yet despite the efforts of international organisa-tions, governments, donor agencies and civil society, prog-ress in achieving this goal has been slow. While the problem of water scarcity is attracting growing political attention, not in the least due to climate change related uncertainty, a billion people still lack access to safe water. Water borne diseases kill 6,000 infants daily and 2.5 billion people across the global lack access to ade-quate sanitation. Water and sanitation concerns are certain-ly not new. Indeed, they have been a focus of development interventions and international action since the 1977 Mar del Plata UN World Water Conference and the subsequent International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (IDWSSD). After 30 years of attention, the world seems to be abuzz with ‘wisdom’ on water and sanitation issues with countless fora dedicated to the discussion of such themes


Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

published by
Mehta, L.
IHDP Update, issue 2


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