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"Challenges to Meeting the Millennium Development Goals Target for Sanitation"

February 3, 2009

Lauren Fry, Ph.D. candidate in Michigan Tech’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will discuss research published in a special issue of Environmental Science and Technology on world water resources (Fry, Mihelcic, & Watkins, 2008). Following a review of literature, several challenges to sanitation coverage were identified, and indicators were chosen to evaluate the effect the challenges may have on sanitation coverage. These challenges were related to economics, institutional systems, societal values, and water resources. Indicators were analyzed using correlation analysis for each indicator and principal components for several of the more important indicators. We found that the indicators GDP (PPP), Social and Institutional Capacity, Foreign Direct Investment, Gender Empowerment Measure, Corruption Perception Index were all predictors of sanitation coverage.

On a country level scale, water availability was not correlated to sanitation coverage. However, a 0.5° grid scale analysis of the impacts of sanitation technology choice and future numbers of people served on water resources revealed that up to 46 million people could move into the severe water stress category (using more than 40% of renewable resources) if the world reaches 100% coverage in 2025 and up to 8.7 million people could be added to severe stress category if the Millennium Development Goals are met by 2015. These figures depended on the type of sanitation technology used to meet the demand, and a large proportion of these people were in urban settings where sewers are most commonly used.

For more information on the Millennium Development Goals, visit the U.N.’s Web site.