The first collaborative international effort to create significant
impacts on the global water and sanitation situation came from
the First International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation
Decade (1981–1990) which ultimately met with limited success.
However, new innovations exist that may lead to greater success
in the second decade International Decade for Action: Water for
Life (2005–2015), such as increases in public-private
partnerships, investments by large corporations, and more
community-based organizations and nongovernmental
organizations that work on improving access to water and
sanitation. A greater focus on microfinancing and local
initiatives, along with new discussion of ecological sanitation
and culturally appropriate initiatives, is led by empowered
community members. Other trends include the consideration of
global water scarcity in sustainable planning and a move from
simple water quality monitoring to the development of a more
holistic water safety plan approach by the World Health
Organization (WHO) as well as greater use of various
household water treatment approaches.
With regard to standards for improved water and sanitation, it is
important to recognize that improved water is not necessarily
safe drinking water. Improved water access includes household
connections, public standpipes, rainwater collection, boreholes,
and protected wells, but not water vendors, unprotected wells,
unprotected springs, rivers or ponds, or tanker truck water.
Improved sanitation includes connections to public sewers,
septic systems, pour-flush and improved pit latrines, but not
shared, traditional, or open pit latrines. Results have been mixed
—between 1990 and 2002, the number of people with improved
water gradually increased
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