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845 million people still need access to #DrinkingWater to meet 2030 UN goal

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Seven countries still provide less than half of their population with access to basic drinking water, while another 40 countries have no basic sanitation services for at least 50% of citizens, new research shows.

It comes to light after a new study, entitled Forward-Thinking Countries, reveals the most and least progressive nations based on key social, environmental and economic indicators. 

The proportion of the global population using safe drinking water services was reported to be 71% in 2017, with an additional 19% using basic services. This means that 785 million people still lacked access to even basic drinking water according to the latest available figures. 

Out of the 146 assessed countries, just four provide 100% of the population with access to at least basic drinking water and basic sanitation: New Zealand, Israel, Qatar and Singapore.

The UN has called for universal and equal access to safe and affordable drinking services by 2030, to reduce the preventable health risks caused by contaminated or polluted water. These risks include infectious diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid fever.

Analysis reveals that the countries with the poorest water provisions experience a higher number of deaths from infectious diseases compared to countries with better provisions. 

In countries where less than 70% of people have access to basic drinking water, an average of 486 deaths per 100,000 people were reported in 2018, compared to just 88.3 deaths per 100,000 people from countries with better drinking water services. 

Of the 146 countries with water provision data available, the Central African Republic experienced the most deaths from infectious diseases in 2018, with 1,209.3 reported per 100,000 people. Just 54% of the population has access to at least basic drinking water, and 25% has access to basic sanitation facilities. 

Countries with poor water provisions also experience a higher infant mortality rate. Countries where less than 70% of the population have access to basic drinking water reported 486 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to just 88.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in other locations.

Countries with the poorest water provisions: 

Country

Access to at Least Basic Drinking Water (% of Population)

Access to at Least Basic Sanitation Facilities (% of Population)

% of Population with Access to Basic Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation

Eritrea

19.29

11.26

2.17

Ethiopia

39.12

7.08

2.77

Chad

42.54

9.55

4.06

Madagascar

50.62

9.69

4.91

Niger

45.8

12.9

5.93

As well as assessing water provision and sanitation facilities, Forward-Thinking Countries analyzes reports from the United Nations, the Global Gender Gap Report, UNICEF and non-governmental organisations to reveal which countries have made the most progress towards global equality over the past five years.

The analysis shows that Norway is the most progressive country, having closed 83.5% of its gender gap and scoring 90.26 points out of 100 on the Social Progress Index. This measures indicators that feed into basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity. 

When compared to the target boundaries for key issues, the world underperforms in many aspects of social progress relative to economic resources. The largest area of under-performance is water and sanitation, which has only seen minor improvement (+1.61 points) over the past five years. 

The research is published ahead of World Water Week, which is organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute and starts on 25th August. The event aims to address global water issues such as provision, pollution and sanitation, and related international development goals. 

The results of the research.

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EU imposes sanctions on Russians linked to Navalny poisoning and detention

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The Council today(2 March) decided to impose restrictive measures on four Russian individuals responsible for serious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as widespread and systematic repression of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and freedom of opinion and expression in Russia.

Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Igor Krasnov, the Prosecutor-General, Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard, and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Prison Service have been listed over their roles in the arbitrary arrest, prosecution and sentencing of Alexei Navalny, as well as the repression of peaceful protests in connection with his unlawful treatment.

This is the first time that the EU imposes sanctions in the framework of the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime which was established on 7 December 2020. The sanctions regime enables the EU to target those responsible for acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses such as torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions.

The restrictive measures that entered into force today in follow up to discussions by the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 February 2021 consist of a travel ban and asset freeze. In addition, persons and entities in the EU are forbidden from making funds available to those listed, either directly or indirectly.

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Nine EU-supported films compete in the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival

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The 71st Berlin International Film Festival began on 1 March, this year in its digital edition due to the coronavirus pandemicnine EU-supported films and series, three of which are competing for the highest prize, the Golden Bear: Memory Box by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Nebenan (Next Door) by Daniel Brühl, and Természetes fény (Natural Light) by Dénes Nagy. The EU supported the development and co-production of these nine titles with an investment of over €750 000 that was awarded through the Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Targeted to film professionals and media, the Berlinale film festival is hosting the European Film Market, where the Creative Europe MEDIA programme is active with a virtual stand as well as with the European Film Forum. The Forum that will take place online on 2 March will gather various professionals from the industry to discuss the future perspectives for the audiovisual sector in Europe. The Berlinale will run until 5 March, when the winning films will be announced. The second round of this year's festival, ‘The Summer Special', will take place in June 2021 and will open the films to the public and host the official Award Ceremony. More information is available here.

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Yemen: €95 million in EU humanitarian aid for people threatened by conflict and famine

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The European Commission is allocating €95 million in humanitarian support to address the most pressing needs of people in Yemen amid record highs of child malnutrition, an imminent threat of famine and renewed fighting. More than 2 million children as well as over 1 million pregnant women and mothers are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, while escalating hostilities are forcing thousands of families to leave their households.

The new funding was announced by the Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič, at the high-level pledging event for Yemen on 1 March co-hosted by the United Nations, Sweden and Switzerland. Commissioner Lenarčič said: "The EU does not forget the dire situation of people in Yemen who are once again on the brink of famine after bearing the brunt of the world's worst humanitarian crisis. New EU funding will be essential in maintaining life-saving aid for millions of people, exhausted  after a disastrous year marked by fighting, COVID-19 and further economic collapse. Parties to the conflict need to facilitate the access of humanitarian organisations to those most in need and avoid further civilian suffering. Now more than ever it is crucial that International Humanitarian Law and unrestricted access to those in need are upheld.”

In 2021, EU humanitarian aid will continue to provide food, nutrition and healthcare, financial assistance, water and sanitation, education and other lifesaving support to the conflict-displaced and those in severe need. The press release is available online.

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