El Salvador, Niger, and Pakistan are performing better in improving water and sanitation for their citizens than are industrial giants such as Russia and Brazil, according to the new Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) Performance Index developed by The Water Institute at UNC, based in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.
The new index, released May 8 during a live webcast, showed which countries are leaders in improving access to water and sanitation for their residents. Sub-Saharan African countries including Mali, South Africa and Ethiopia are also among the top performers world-wide in spite of modest resources.
[Photo: The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) Performance Index is the first measure to compare countries according to the human rights principle of ‘progressive realization,’ the obligation of every country to take appropriate measures toward the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights of its people, based on its resources. Left to right, at the launch of the Performance Index, are report co-author Dr. Jamie Bartram; Mr. Darren Saywell from Plan International; Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque, vice chair of Sanitation and Water for All; and Mr. Ryan Cronk, doctoral student in environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School and report co-author]
The WaSH Performance Index evaluates country performance in improving access to water and sanitation and in eroding inequalities in access. High-performing countries for 2015 are those that achieved significant improvement in recent years compared to their peers. These include El Salvador, Niger, Egypt, Maldives, and Pakistan. Low-performing countries are those that showed stagnation or decline in recent years compared to their peers, including the Dominican Republic, The Gambia, Ghana, Samoa, and Timor-Leste.
Among the most populated countries in the world, Pakistan, China and Nigeria were top performers (ranked five, 11, and 18 respectively). Conversely, Russia, the Philippines, and India were bottom performers (ranked 72, 83, and 92). India’s ranking as a bottom-performer predates the recent launch of the “Clean India Mission” by Prime Minister Modi.
The Index is the first measure to compare countries according to the human rights principle of “progressive realization”— the obligation of every country to take appropriate measures towards the full realization of economic, social and cultural rights to the maximum of their available resources. Ms. de Albuquerque, a human rights lawyer, says the Index brings together technical analysis of water and sanitation progress and human rights.
“This Index uses data to look at progress in water and sanitation in a new way,” Ms. de Albuquerque said. “Though we routinely measure water and sanitation coverage worldwide, this is the first use of the data to fairly rank and compare how countries are fulfilling their obligation to progressively improve these services or, in other words, the efforts they are making compared to their peers.”
The Index compares countries of all sizes and income levels. By comparing how they are improving water and sanitation compared to best-in-class countries at similar levels of development, the Index provides a fair comparison of progress on water and sanitation. Using this method, the report revealed that a country’s gross domestic product did not determine performance in improving water and sanitation for its citizens.
Dr. Jamie Bartram, director of The Water Institute Institute at UNC, Holzworth Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering, and co-author of the WaSH report, said that gives him a great deal of optimism.