An old man, in Livingston, Zambia, stooped to scoop muddy water from a puddle into his pail. “What I want most is clean water,” he said, to me. I was conducting a World Bank field survey back in 2000 in Livingston. Even as the man expressed his desire for such a basic need, I could hear the roar of the mighty Victoria Falls just a few kilometers away. That was the sound of billions of gallons of fresh water, but not immediately drinkable. I never forgot the sound of it.
The extent to which people across the world have access to clean water, education, food, healthcare and other basic needs is measured by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of internationally agreed targets adopted in 2000. Last week, world leaders and the developmental community gathered in New York for the MDG summit to urge the international community to speed up progress toward the MDGs.