Leaving no one behindSince the 1980s, the consumption of water has been increasing rampantly, fuelled by a rapidly growing population and changes in socio-economic amelioration As per a United Nations report, global water demand is expected to rise until 2050 by 20-30 percent
Since the 1980s, the consumption of water has been increasing rampantly, fuelled by a rapidly growing population and changes in socio-economic amelioration. As per a United Nations report, global water demand is expected to rise until 2050 by 20-30 percent. Around 2 billion people live in countries suffering from a high level of water stress, and about 4 billion people suffer from water scarcity. Consumption is expected to rise as demand for water grows and the effects of climate change intensify.
Affordable and reliable access to safe drinking water and healthy sanitation services are basic human rights. Yet, billions of people still suffer from a paucity of safe water and sanitation facilities. An estimated 2.1 billion people live without safe water at home, and more than 700 children under the age of five have suffered an untimely death as a result of unsafe water use and poor sanitation. Globally, 80 percent of the people have been linked to unsafe and unprotected water, and nearly 4 billion, which accounts for almost two-thirds of the world’s population, have been associated with experiencing water scarcity.
While these data indicate poor access to water and sanitation facilities, an investigation conducted to assess the results produced shocking results. People are being left behind due to their gender, ethnicity, culture and socioeconomic status. Rampant exclusion, discrimination, poverty and material inequalities are obstacles that have inhibited people from enjoying their right to water and sanitation. In addition, ethnic and linguistic minorities, including indigenous peoples, refugees and migrants, experience discrimination, obstructing their rights and access to water and sanitation.
International advocacy for human rights and law have pushed countries, states and organisations to work tirelessly to provide access to water and sanitation services, and prioritise the needs and demands of all. This can only be accomplished if the right to water and sanitation is made physically accessible and equitably affordable. ‘Leaving No One Behind’, the theme for World Water Day 2019, held on March 22, is at the heart of the commitment which aims to allow people in all countries to benefit from socio-economic development.
Social and cultural dimensions have an important role to play in ensuring the success of water accessibility and availability that can fulfil the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and implement Sustainable Development Goal 6. The basic provision of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities at home, the workplace and school has different approaches in eradicating water problems, as it enhances workforce health and productivity and emphasises education outcomes by reducing absenteeism. Local and indigenous communities are always at the forefront of environmental stewardship. Therefore, valuing and documenting traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples’ stewardship of land and water can support the inclusion, and enhance the fulfilment of the right to clean water and sanitation facilities.
All the actors and stakeholders involved primarily in the realisation and fulfilment of the right to water and sanitation have specific obligations and responsibilities. In making that happen, having inclusive institutional structures for all the stakeholders can be an essential component in ensuring equitable access to sustainable water supply as it creates a coherence for multiple stakeholders. When the responsibility of the government is shared and distributed towards policy setting and regulation, the provision of water services can be achieved.
The important relationship between individuals as rights-holders entitled to water and sanitation, and countries with the responsibility as duty bearers have to guarantee the assurance of using all the available resources to provide safe and clean drinking water. Non-governmental organisations and international organisations can provide more security, financial assurance and support to ensure that their assistance is directed towards the countries or regions that have more problems in realising their rights to water and sanitation.
If we’re going to address the questions associated with water security and unlock the most valuable solutions to the ubiquitous water challenges, we have to address the problem at the source. Improved management of water resources and access to safe water and sanitation is essential for eradicating poverty, building healthy and prosperous societies, and ensuring that no one is left behind on the path towards the accomplishment of sustainable development. The inclusion of all the stakeholders on a non-discriminatory and equal basis is inevitable.
The goal to ensure the accessibility and availability of water resources is entirely achievable, provided that exclusion, discrimination and inequality are addressed in both policy regulation and implementation. Or else, water interventions will fail to reach water deprived people and those who are likely to benefit most.
Sherpa is a Environmental Science graduate and a WWF Nepal Scholar.