• Right to water: solutions anchored in reality

    16 March 2012

    The inhabitants of Altamira, Brasil. (Photo 6th World Water Forum, Rui Faquini ANA Brasil)

    Upholding the right to water and sanitation results from a long process, according to a panel of experts introduced by Loïc Fauchon, President of the World Water Council. Concrete examples, however, prove that it is possible.

    It begins with legal incorporation of the term into national law, followed by establishing action plans that are in turn backed by increased and targeted investments. This must happen while respecting several conditions: encouraging stronger cooperation, facilitating knowledge sharing between NGOs, States and local actors, organising the management of service operators and promoting the adaption of appropriate technologies for implementation.

    But for the panel, this approach can only succeed if benefiting communities are implemented into the decision-making process, and then able to manage, operate and evaluate provided services. As an example, an animated film follows the voyage of a French family as they discover the difficulties of accessing water for a village in Mali. The most vulnerable populations must be identified, targeted and provided with appropriate financing.

    Means of Financing

    According to Alejandro Molinari, the Argentinean Quality of Services Manager of the NGO ETOSS/ERAS, it is necessary to measure the frequency of supply, the consumption, the quality, the quantity, and the cost of water. For the ONG, the cost of the water bill should not exceed 5% of the household income, and the operators should provide regular water quality reports.

    Up until 1999, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the most impoverished households relied only on one central well where water was often stolen and sold at exorbitant prices. The city thus financed a programme in partnership with the World Bank and the City of Paris. According to Nao Long, Deputy General Director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), 27,000 direct connections to the water supply network have been created. Households can spread out their payment over 22 month, if necessary, and receive benefits of up to 70% of the cost. Ouane Habib, Mali's Minister of Energy and Water, presented another concept consisting of using a portion of revenues from telephone calls to be used towards improving water access.

    The Ugandan Parliament member, Kaitake Sarah NDOBOLI maintains the indispensable role of the United Nations in the implementation of this human right.

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