Launch of the Global Human Development Report

09 Nov 2006

Remarks from

Mahmood A. Ayub

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

State Hydraulic Works

 

Welcome all participants.

As you know, the purpose of this conference is to launch this year’s Human Development Report of UNDP. And I am pleased to announce that one of the authors of this report, Mr.  Juerg Staudenmann, from the UNDP’s Regional Office in Bratislava, is with us and he will be making the main presentation.

But let me say very briefly that the topic of this year’s Global Human Development Report is very, very important. It relates to the global water crisis—a subject that needs to be highlighted much more than at present.

Unlike wars and natural disasters, the global crisis in water does not make media headlines.

Like hunger, deprivation in access to water is a silent but brutal killer, of the poor and the disinherited.

And it is a tragedy that this silent killer is being tolerated by those who have the resources, the technology and the political power to end it.

Let’s look at some figures

·        While in industrialized countries, clean water is now literally available at the twist of a tap, in the developing world some 1.1 billion people do not have access to a minimum amount of clean water.

·        The problem is even more serious when it comes to access to basic sanitation. No less than 2.6 billion people—half the population of the developing world—do  not have access to basic sanitation.

·        As a result of poor sanitation, some 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diarrhea. What does this mean? It means that in the time that I conclude my short speech, over 30 children will have died—TOTALLY PREVENTABLE DEATHS OF OUR CHILDREN!

·        Millions of girls and women spend several hours a day collecting water. Of course that means that they do not have an opportunity to attend school. In the front portion of the report there is a quote from a 10-year old Bolivian who says:

·        “Of course I wish I were in school. I want to learn to read and write…But how can I? My mother needs me to get water”.

·        And we have the ecological stress resulting from water shortages—shrinking lakes, sinking groundwater tables, and river systems that do not reach the sea. We are, of course familiar with some of these problems in Turkey.

Add to this the MASSIVE economic losses associated with water and sanitation deficit. Sub Saharan Africa loses no less than 5% of its Gross Domestic Product due to the water and sanitation deficit. This is roughly equivalent to 28 billion dollars annually—a figure that exceeds ALL  the aid flow  PLUS ALL  the total external debt relief to the region in 2003.

And the tragedy is that most of the losses are sustained by the poorest people in the poorest countries.

A key question addressed to the conscience of each one of us is: Can the world afford to meet the costs of reducing the massive problems resulting from water and sanitation deficits?

The answer is an emphatic and unequivocal YES. Provided there is the will,  and provided there is the inclination. The total bill to meet the Millennium Development Goal of having the proportion of world population without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 is ten billion dollars. Of course this appears like a large amount. But consider this: ten billion dollars is less than 5 days worth of global military spending!

In short, the global family has the resources. And it has  the technology to solve this problem. What is needed is commitment. What is needed is to make water a human right and mean it. What is needed is drawing up fully financed national strategies for water and sanitation, and making sure they are implemented effectively.

This is the context of this report. This is a glimpse of the presentation to come. And my colleague, Mr Staudenmann, will provide more details.

But let me take this opportunity to also mention something that is, of course, very closely linked to the Human Development Report. And something that is followed very closely in Turkey, especially by the media and the academia. As many of you already know,  this is the Human development Index, which is a composite index measuring not just the GDP, but human indicators.

The good news for Turkey is that the country has moved up—improved—two steps on this index compared to last year. It is now 92nd out of a total of 177 countries. This mainly reflects the positive impact of solid economic growth of the last few years on the index.

But of course there is more to be done. For its per capita level, Turkey should be doing better on this index. The country needs to make more progress in the areas of education, life expectancy and women’s empowerment.

We will be pleased to answer any questions on this index later this afternoon.

But let me end by thanking you all once again for coming to this presentation.

Thank you.