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UNECE Scorecard Shows Progress on Access to Water and Sanitation in France, Portugal, Ukraine

UNECE4 March 2013: France, Portugal and Ukraine have made progress in access to water and sanitation for all, according to the results of a pilot scorecard developed under the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Water Convention's Protocol on Water and Health.

The countries evaluated their progress on access to water and sanitation along three dimensions that are generally identified as the main disparities in access: affordability concerns; geographical disparities; and specific barriers.

In France, water and wastewater operators maintain the Housing Solidarity Fund, which supports low income groups to pay their water bills. Further, France's water policy stipulates that those who cannot afford to pay cannot be disconnected from water and sanitation services. The greater Paris metropolitan region also constructed public baths, toilets and fountains for the use of residents who do not have access to water and sanitation.

Portugal has implemented progressive pricing strategies and national and municipal subsidies to increase affordability of water and sanitation services. In addition, social tariffs aim to match charges with the economic capacity of populations. Both measures have increased access to water and sanitation.

Although public policies in the Ukraine are oriented towards and contribute to equitable access to water and sanitation for all, limited funding and uncoordinated sectoral approaches has hindered implementation. The scorecard also reveals disparities between urban and rural access: 88% of urban populations have access to water supply compared to 23% of rural populations, while 61% of urban populations have access to improved sanitation compared to 2.6% in rural areas.

France leads the UNECE's work on access to water supply and sanitation for poor and vulnerable populations. An expert group developed the scorecard, which aims to provide governments and stakeholders throughout the UNECE region with a tool to establish a baseline and track progress on equitable access to water and sanitation. A UNECE publication, “No one left behind: Good practices to ensure equitable access to water and sanitation in the pan-European region” further describes the rationale behind targets and indicators. [UNECE  Press Release[UNECE Work on Equitable Access to Water and Sanitation[Expert Group on Equitable Access Scorecard[Publication: No One Left Behind: Good Practices to Ensure Equitable Access to Water and Sanitation in the Pan-European Region]