Fixing the water and sanitation disaster: How expertise and innovation may help

UNCTAD examines how you can use new applied sciences to enhance current programs and get protected water and sanitation to all.

© UNDP Lebanon | An extension of the primary water provide community reaches Kfar Roummane, a village in southern Lebanon.

This 12 months’s World Water Day on 23 March focuses on accelerating change to unravel the water and sanitation disaster.

About 2 billion individuals lack protected ingesting water, in accordance with UN-Water, and about 5.4 billion don’t have entry to securely managed sanitation providers.

A current UNCTAD report emphasizes the function of science, expertise and innovation (STI) in tackling this disaster.

It says frontier applied sciences reminiscent of synthetic intelligence, large knowledge and Web of Issues assist in monitoring water and sanitation infrastructure and speed up progress in the direction of UN Sustainable Growth Objective (SDG) 6 on “clear water and sanitation for all”.

To develop their use, the UN’s Fee on Science and Expertise for Growth (CSTD) will look at how STI may help get protected water and sanitation to the billions of individuals with out these important providers, throughout its twenty-sixth annual session from 27 to 31 March. UNCTAD offers substantive assist to the CSTD.

“Entry to protected water and sanitation is a problem in growing international locations,” mentioned Shamika N. Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director for expertise and logistics and head of the CSTD Secretariat. “Local weather change and elevated strain on water, meals and power sources are aggravating the state of affairs.”

She mentioned the CSTD will proceed serving as the focus within the UN system for knowledge-sharing, consensus constructing and securing synergies between UN-wide initiatives to leverage STI for improvement, together with for SDG 6.

New applied sciences maintain nice promise

Demand for freshwater is projected to exceed provide by 40% by 2030, placing in danger the achievement of SDG 6 and threatening all SDGs, together with these on meals safety, poverty, gender equality and peace.

Tackling water shortage resulting from extra demand and local weather change would require a dramatic enchancment in how we handle water sources.

“New applied sciences may be deployed in water infrastructure administration,” mentioned Sucharit Koontanakulvong, a distinguished scholar in water sources administration at Chulalangkorn College in Thailand.

Mr. Koontanakulvong, who will probably be a part of a high-level panel on making certain protected water and sanitation in the course of the CSTD session, mentioned such expertise can increase efforts to fight local weather change and obtain SDG 6. 

For instance, early warning programs that depend on drone applied sciences or deeply built-in earth remark programs can assist catastrophe menace prediction and mitigation.

And options like good metering, which offer real-time data and customised suggestions, can enhance the effectivity of current water and sanitation programs.

Such applied sciences ought to be scaled as much as speed up progress in the direction of SDG 6, agree different consultants who will converse in the course of the session.

“A mix of open digital instruments, capacity-building and using worldwide requirements and frameworks is prime to scaling up efforts in the direction of SDG 6,” mentioned Enrique Cabrera, a professor on the Polytechnic College of Valencia in Spain and the vp of Worldwide Water Affiliation.

He mentioned water options have to be tailored to native circumstances, as one dimension is not going to match all.

“Advert-hoc options will probably be wanted for every native state of affairs to find out the most effective use of the most recent applied sciences and how you can optimize using current monetary sources,” Mr. Cabrera mentioned. 

World partnerships crucial

World partnerships are essential not solely to assist entry to STI but in addition to reinforce knowledge-sharing that fosters the scaling up of fine practices domestically and internationally.

Doulaye Kone, deputy director of the water, sanitation and hygiene programme on the Invoice and Melinda Gates Basis, highlights the significance of cooperation amongst varied stakeholders in fast-tracking progress in the direction of SDG 6.

“Over the past decade, new gamers, inventors and innovators have joined the problem of fixing the sanitation disaster,” mentioned Mr. Kone, who will be a part of the panel of consultants on the CSTD session.

He mentioned stakeholders from trade, academia and governments in China, India, Senegal and South Africa are pioneering transformative options to make sanitation providers inclusive and protected for all, particularly ladies and women.

“By setting clear insurance policies, efficiency requirements for progressive applied sciences and sanitation service supply,” Mr. Kone mentioned, “international locations can drive the adoption of innovation and collaboration that’s wanted to speed up progress in the direction of SDG 6.”

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