MDG 7 and the Moment of Truth

posted by Frank van Steenbergen
July 2, 2012

It is two years to go to the day of reckoning.  By 2015 the Millenium Development Goals should have been reached – including in “halving, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking-water “, i.e. part of MDG 7(c).

The Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) program of UNICEF and WHO keeps the tabs on this but really how accurate are these? Take Pakistan – the world’s 6th most populous country.  According to the JMP coverage in 2010 was 92% up from the base line of 89% in 2000.

These figures appear shamefully wrong. The first problem with the definition of coverage under JMP of course that it concerns the distance to the ‘nearest’ water point – even if this water point is non-functional, which in itself is a bit bizarre. Non-functionality of rural drinking water systems in Pakistan is high. An assessment of PCRWR under the Safe Water for All Program showed that 37% of 4879 systems assessed in 58 districts were non-functional.

This was part of a nation-wide survey – that unfortunately was never completely processed and published but several part reports exist. They show that in Badin District (Sindh) access to improved water points is  only 11%. In other districts it is higher but never anywhere near the JMP figures.

This really questions the make-believe nature  of the MDG7. Will we be happy in 2015 to report progress that was never there for a country of 180 Million people?  How do we get out of the fix? And how sure are we of our MDG7 ‘guesses’ for other countries?

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July 2, 2012  
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