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September 2018

Why a human rights based approach to water and sanitation is essential for the poor

Christian Borja-Vega's picture

It may have taken decades, but access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is now firmly recognized as a human right. How did this happen? What does it mean in practice? And how can it help the rural poor gain access?

In July of 2010, the United Nations General Assembly “explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights” in Resolution A/RES/64/292. Despite these commitments, investments to date have largely proved insufficient to guarantee universal access. Today, 844 million people lack access to safe drinking water, and more than twice that number (2.3 billion) do not have access to adequate sanitation. Take the example of Mozambique. New World Bank research, the ‘WASH Poverty Diagnostic’, reveals that access to improved water on premises could be as low as 32 percent in rural areas, and as high as 69 percent in urban areas. The research finds that inequitable access is due to poor governance and lack of specific attention to the poor and vulnerable; not only it is a matter of life and death, water and sanitation are basic rights.

Demystifying the role of financing SDG6

Joel Kolker's picture

Perhaps one of the most exciting developments coming out of the SIWI World Water Week in Stockholm at the end of August was the large number of sessions and debates around the financing issue.  In essence, the discussion on how we will collectively raise enough funds to close the financing gap was prominent in many discussions. 

It is worth noting that some progress has been made. The issue is now prominent in all the major policy discussions with stakeholders. There is an acknowledgement that domestic finance, rather than international resources, are key to addressing the issue. 

Solving for water security at the source

Andrea Erickson's picture

Aerial view looking south toward the Gulf of Mexico down the Wax Lake Delta, Louisiana.
Photo © Carlton Ward Jr.
 

New York City faced a challenge in the 1990s: the city needed a new water filtration system to serve its nearly 8 million people. But the prospect of spending $6 to 10 billion on a new water treatment plant, and another $100 million on annual operating costs, was daunting. So, city officials took a closer look at the source of their water—the Catskill Mountains.
 
Water from the Catskills flows through 120 miles of forests, farmlands and towns to reach New York City. When that landscape is healthy, it acts as a natural purifying system, but certain development and agricultural practices can result in impaired water quality. For city officials, reaching out to local farmers and landowners and compensating them to restore and conserve their lands in the watershed, combined with some land acquisition, proved to be significantly cheaper than building and operating a new treatment plant.