Water, Sanitation and Agriculture Linkages with Health and Nutrition Improvement

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized access to safe water and sanitation infrastructure a matter of human right. This right is reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 6, whose targets 1 and 2 point to universal access to safe and affordable drinking water and adequate sanitation by 2030, in a gender equitable way. Progress towards these targets has been recorded, building on successes achieved under the previous framework of the Millennium Development Goals (Target 7.c). These positive developments could be expected to spill over to other dimensions of human development, health and nutrition in particular. Yet, progress in either of these dimensions, particularly among young children (SDG target 2.2 on ending all forms of malnutrition), is not commensurate. In this paper, we advocate for a systemic approach to water management for improved health and nutrition. We focus on rural and peri-urban areas of the developing world, where multi-purpose water systems are particularly relevant. As competition for safe water resources intensifies, it is important to understand the trade-offs between specific uses and their implications for health and nutrition, based on the gender and age of individuals.