Now that water is a human right, is enough being done to supply it?
At Harvey’s, we’re naturally very interested in water quality and its conservation. While it’s easy to take clean, treated water for granted in much of the developed world, we mustn’t forget just how many people all over the world struggle to get the water they need to drink, cook and clean themselves with. This month, a Guardian Global Development podcast discussed this very issue, driving home the shocking fact that 1.1 billion people – a sixth of the world’s population – still do not have reliable access to safe drinking water.
An interesting issue raised in the podcast was that, although the United Nations’ 2015 target for water provision was met five years ahead of schedule in 2010, this hasn’t been enough – because the quality of the water is currently not measured. According to Catarina du Albuquerque, the UN special rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation, there is still “huge inequality” in this regard, and the future human rights agenda should be concerned with reducing this gap. “Even if many countries are even managing to achieve the water or the sanitation target, the truth is that there are systematically patterns of exclusion inside countries that have not diminished over the past 15 years,” she said.
It’s also worth noting that in 2010, access to water was declared a universal human right by the United Nations, meaning governments now have a formal obligation to the international community to provide their people with it – and this presents a tricky situation in countries where water is privatised, effectively turning a human right into a commodity. “Water is a means for life. Water itself is life … And government(s) must protect that otherwise we’ll set ourselves up for inequalities and for debts based on poverty and social divides,” added Timeyin Uwejamomere of the charity WaterAid.
While at Harveys we’re naturally concerned with the hard/soft water divide here in the UK, this kind of discussion can sometimes put things into perspective – and we hope you feel the same way.