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UN deputy chief welcomes progress in water and sanitation

The UN deputy chief on Wednesday warmly welcomed the encouraging progress in creating universal and sustainable access to decent sanitation and drinking water, a spokesperson said.

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson welcomed the “encouraging steps forward” detailed in the 2013 Progress Update issued by the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership, the UN deputy spokesperson Eduardo del Buey told reporters at a daily briefing.

The monitoring report released on Wednesday showed that political leadership and concrete action have led to good progress since the 2012 SWA High Level Meeting, but additional efforts are needed to fulfill commitments by the 2014 deadline.

Developing countries reported completion or good progress on almost 60 percent of the commitments and the figure for donors is 80 percent, according to the report.

However, only 44 percent of country commitments and 42 percent of donor commitments are on track to be achieved by the third high- level meeting of the SWA set for April 2014, the report said.

Eliasson noted that the challenge now is to maintain momentum and eliminate barriers to delivering the remaining commitments, del Buey said.

“Strengthening financing systems, carrying out institutional reforms and addressing gaps in human resources will be critical,” Eliasson was quoted by the deputy spokesperson as saying.

Backed by the UN, the SWA partnership comprised of governments, donors, civil society organizations, development partners and several UN agencies last met at a high-level meeting in April 2012, at which representatives committed to addressing barriers to the delivery of sustainable water and sanitation services.

The goals of the partnership are in line with the targets contained in the Millennium Development Goals, which world leaders agreed to meet by the end of 2015.

UN figures show that some 1.1 billion people still defecate in the open, leading the General Assembly to designate November 19 as World Toilet Day.

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