As the 2015 end-date of the MDGS draws near, a puzzle remains: why has the target on clean water been surpassed, while progress on sanitation has been so poor? Surely water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) go together? This question goes to the heart of the MDG worldview, and the problem of measuring development generally.
This week, David Cameron sets off to Liberia's capital, Monrovia, for influential UN talks on what should replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015. The cynics would say this is another talking shop, an opportunity for the great and the good to come together and pontificate on poverty. I am not one of them.
Across the world, 1 in 3 women risk shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. That's 1.25 billion women - daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers. Facing each day without access to this basic necessity is not just an inconvenience; it impacts on all aspects of life, and it is women and girls who suffer the most. Having nowhere safe to go to the toilet also means an increased risk of shame, harassment and even violence for women and girls when they are forced to go out in search of a private place to go to the toilet.
The key theme at this year's Stockholm World Water Week is water and food security: how do we meet the ever developing needs of a growing population with an increasing demand for resources?
But this World Toilet Day (19 November), there are 2.6 billion people across the world who have nowhere safe to go to the toilet. That's two out of five people for whom a toilet is an unimaginable luxury. Meanwhile, almost 900 million people are forced to risk their lives on a daily basis by drinking dirty water because they have no other option.
Proper sanitation and hand washing is the answer to child mortality in Togo, it is the starting point for the success of every other development programme that UNICEF work on. But before that we need to modernise the thinking of an entire nation. There's no point building toilets if they are not then used.