Sridhar Vedachalam ( New York State Water Resources Institute, Cornell University)
Sridhar Vedachalam is a postdoctoral researcher. He received his PhD in environmental science and MS in environmental economics from the Ohio State University, where he worked on interdisciplinary approaches to wastewater management. His research is centered on water and wastewater infrastructure issues, including assessment, planning, financing, use, and regulation. He is actively involved with the nonprofit Association for India’s Development, and served a 2-year term on its Executive Board.
Can Definitions Doom Statistics? Experiences from the water and sanitation target
Of all the MDGs’ objectives, none is perhaps more controversial than Target 7C, which seeks to “halve the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” Ever since the adoption of the MDGs in 2000, the terms “sustainable,” “access,” and “safe” have been contested. Since the target counts the presence of hard infrastructure such as pipes, faucets, and toilets, it overestimates the availability of safe water and sanitation by large margins. The trouble with basic definitions highlights the gap between the aspirations of the global development sector and the realities of government bureaucrats. Building the post-2015 agenda without repairing these shortcomings will result in another round of sham statistics and undeserved chest thumping.
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