10 Years of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation
Mercy Global Action recalls the 2010 UN Resolution on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation and calls on UN Member States worldwide to reaffirm the human right to water and sanitation at all levels of society. On the 28 July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 64/292 which “recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life”. The resolution calls on states to fulfil their duties to their people and provide the necessary assistance, cooperation, resources, and infrastructure which are essential to make water clean, safe, accessible and affordable for all. The year 2020 commemorates ten years since the adoption of this resolution and yet, the full achievement of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as a human right is far from being a reality for many, as 1 in 3 people globally do not have access to safe drinking water.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for adequate water and sanitation facilities even more urgent worldwide. The World Health Organisation has encouraged good hand hygiene as the single most important practice to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and improve public safety. A report by the UN Economic and Social Council in 2016, states that 47 per cent of schools and 40 per cent of health-care facilities worldwide were not equipped to practise good hand hygiene. In order to overcome the current health pandemic, we must demand the realisation of the human right to water and sanitation, and increase the provision of sufficient, safe, accessible, affordable and acceptable WASH programmes worldwide.
Water is essential to all life and the survival of ecosystems. The adverse effects of climate change, biodiversity loss and natural disasters are putting increased unsustainable pressure on global water resources. Water has become a scarce commodity and levels of water pollution and contamination are continuing to rise. Water is essential for poverty reduction and other development achievements including promotion of health, food security, gender equality, sustainable agriculture and growth in industries. UNICEF and the WHO have published a recent report highlighting the stark reality of our Global Water Crisis, revealing that approximately 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services and 3 billion lack basic hand washing facilities.
Across the Mercy World, there are many countries struggling to realise the human right to water and sanitation due to socio-economic, political and environmental pressures which sustain poverty and hunger. The role of governments is essential to end water poverty and invest in infrastructure to provide water at the national and local levels. At the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2020, Panama affirmed the great challenges they are facing to improve health care and provide WASH facilities to the most vulnerable communities. Their new plan to Improve the Health Systems and decrease the infant mortality rate and gender inequality gap, includes guaranteeing safe and clean water and sanitation services and improving environmental policies, which expand to rural and indigenous areas.
Access to clean water and sanitation is a core concern of the Mercy World. We stand against the growing tendency to privatise water which puts the lives of many at risk and promotes inequality, conflict and greed. Mercy Global Action calls on UN member states worldwide to reaffirm the human right to water and sanitation at all levels of society.
Get involved -
- If tap water is safe and clean in your area, reduce your bottled water consumption and persuade others to refill an eco-friendly water bottle instead.
- Communicate directly with your community and raise awareness about the Global Water Crisis and ways to conserve water.
- Review recommendations the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation has made to your country on a past visit and advocate for full implementation of the human right to water and sanitation.
Learn more about the human right to water and sanitation as we face the current water crisis and health crisis:
- NGO Mining Working Group: A rights-based approach to water and sanitation - https://miningwg.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/water-guide-final-pdf.pdf
- WASH and COVID-19 - https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/news-events/wash-and-covid-19/en/
- UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation: Tools for transformation: Gender equality and the human right to water and sanitation - https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Water/Pamplet_GenderEquality.pdf
Messages to: Siobhan Golden - MGA Aintern