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Billions deprived of the right to water
UNESCO Publication on behalf of UN Water
Launch of the United Nations World Water Development Report
Paris/Geneva, 19 March–First of all, access to water and sanitation is an internationally recognized human right. Yet more than two billion people lack the most basic of services. Leaving No One Behind is the latest World Water Development Report by the United Nations. The report explores the symptoms of exclusion. It also investigates ways to overcome inequalities. The report launched in Geneva, Switzerland. All for World Water Day (22 March).
Further in 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right”. As well as in 2015 the human right to sanitation was explicitly recognized as a distinct right. These rights oblige States to work towards achieving universal access to water. As well as sanitation for all. That’s without discrimination. All while prioritizing those most in need. Five years later, Sustainable Development Goal 6 of the 2030 Agenda commencing. All from the Nations World Water Development Report for Sustainable Development. This aims to guarantee sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Yet, despite significant progress over the past 15 years, this goal is unreachable for much of the world’s population. In 2015, three in ten people (2.1 billion) don’t have access to safe drinking water. More importantly 4.5 billion people, or six in ten, have no safely managed sanitation facilities. Therefore, the world is still off track in achieving this important goal.
Wide disparities between the rich and the poor
These figures hide significant disparities. On a global scale, half of the people drinking water are from unsafe sources. They live in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 24% of the population have access to safe drinking water. Furthermore, 28% have basic sanitation facilities that aren’t shared with other households.
So significant discrepancies in access exist even within countries. More notably between the rich and the poor. In urban areas, the disadvantaged housed in makeshift spaces don’t have running water. Those people often pay 10 to 20 times more. More than their neighbours in wealthier neighbourhoods. All for water of similar or lesser quality purchased from water vendors or tanker trucks.
Similarly, the right to water is essential. It cannot be separated from other human rights. That’s including their gender, age or socio-economic status. Also because of their ethnic, religious or linguistic identity. They are also more likely to have limited access to proper water and sanitation.
Almost half of people drinking water from unprotected sources live in Sub- Saharan Africa. That’s where the burden of collecting water lies mainly on women and girls. Many of whom spend more than 30 minutes on each journey to fetch water. Likewise all without safe, accessible water and sanitation. Cause these people face multiple challenges. Challenges including poor health and living conditions. Including malnutrition and lack of opportunities for education plus employment.
Refugees particularly vulnerable
Refugees and internally displaced people often face severe barriers to the access of water supply. As well as sanitation services. Worst part, their numbers are higher than ever before.
In 2017, conflicts and persecution forced 68.5 million people to flee their homes.
Moreover, an annual average of 25.3 million people are forced to migrate. Migrate because of natural disasters. Twice as many as in the early 1970s. Moreover a number expected to rise. It’s to rise further due to climate change.
They are also needed to defuse conflicts between different water users.
Furthermore, the Report observes a significant rise in water-related conflicts. That’s 94 conflicts from 2000 to 2009. Then 263 conflicts from 2010 to 2018.
In conclusion, this Report demonstrates that investing in water supply and sanitation makes good economic sense. Furthermore, the return on investment is high in general.
Finally, published by UNESCO’s World Water Assessment Programme. The United Nations World Water Development Report is the result of a collaboration between the 32 United Nations entities. As well as the 41 international partners who make up UN-Water. It published every year on World Water Day.