Water is an essential building block of life. It is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development.
Leaving no one behind
The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind,’ reiterating the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) that aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030.
Today, billions of people are still living without safe water, which means ‘safely managed drinking water service’: water that is accessible on the premises, available when needed, and free from contamination. Their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive.
Women and girls are responsible for water collection in eight out of ten households with water off-premises. This explains how far they would have to travel searching water in distress. They had to spend their precious time and energy for water collection, making them even more vulnerable.
Similarly other Marginalized groups like children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.
More than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.
Water, a human right
In 2010, the UN recognized “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”
The human right to water entitles everyone, without discrimination, to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use; which includes water for drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, and personal and household hygiene.
“This need for increased international solidarity is especially prominent in certain regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where access to basic services such as water supply and sanitation, remains largely limited.” said Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO in Water Day message.
To ‘leave no one behind’, we must focus our efforts towards including people who have been marginalized or ignored. Water services must meet the needs of marginalized groups and their voices must be heard in decision-making processes.
Regulatory and legal frameworks must recognise the right to water for all people, and sufficient funding must be fairly and effectively targeted at those who need it most.