Millions have gained access to safe drinking water in last 25 years

Millions of additional people now have access to safe drinking water, but the resulting health gains could be undermined by a failure to meet a global target for improved sanitation, a new report shows.

The report, published by Unicef and the World Health Organisation, relates to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in September 2015. The MDG target was to halve the proportion of people who lacked access to basic sanitation between 1990 and 2015.

However, the goal has been missed by nearly 700 million people, the report says.

In all, 2.4 billion people lack proper sanitation facilities. “It’s quite a significant shortfall,” said Tom Slaymaker, water and sanitation monitoring expert at Unicef. “Sanitation is generally less interesting to politicians and attracts less investment”.

UN member states are currently debating a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to cover the period from 2015 to 2030.