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Friday, 22 March 2013

More than 780m people won’t be celebrating World Water Day

Over 780 million people do not have access to safe drinking and more than 2.5 billion people are still without adequate sanitation, according to UN estimations.
On 22 March UN world water day is celebrated. This year, the date is dedicated to 'water cooperation'.
However, a Portuguese lawyer who is the United Nations’ independent advocate for the right to water says that half of humans lack safe drinking water, as the official UN figure does not provide a full picture of water poverty, estimating that actually some 3.5 billion people lack a safe supply: “Many of the people I’ve met on fact-finding missions who have taps inside their houses, or who have wells next to their houses … much of this water is contaminated with human waste, because of industry, pesticide runoff, etc”, Catarina de Albuquerque said.

Nevertheless, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water has been reached, although the respective target for access to sanitation is off track, especially in Africa.

The UN General Assembly recognised the right to water as a fundamental human right in 2010, giving ammunition for court challenges and international pressure - “Increasingly, water is subject to allocation through market mechanisms, with the risk that the poor will be priced out,” the UN advocates said in a World Water Day statement.
In this context, a parliamentary discussion  heard that water is a 'common good' and not a commodity that can be bought and sold: "Water cannot follow the rules of the internal market. In other words it cannot be privatised", a representative political association Prima Persona which organised the event, said.

The European Union is providing an estimated €1.5 billion annually water and sanitation works in developing countries.

Source: Euractiv, European Commission, The Parliament