UN World Water Development Report: Leaving no one behind

Hada, speaking at a SIWI (Stockholm International Water Institute) World Water Week event on the UN’s World Water Development report for 2019, said that it was important to identify those being left behind and why.

He reiterated that according to the World Health Organisation, worldwide 3 in 10 people lack access to safe, readily available water at home, and 6 in 10 lack safely managed sanitation.

Rio Hada of OHCHR discusses how sustainable water can be made available to more people worldwide.

There are various reasons for people being left behind, including discrimination and marginalisation – both major factors.

Refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people are a group that have been left far according to Murray Burt of UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency). Lack of facilities have forced them to turn to unsafe practices including drinking dirty water and defecating in public. This, in turn, has become a health risk.

Murray Burt of UNHCR discusses the plight of refugees in the context of leaving no one behind.

According to Burt, the right to water is the most fundamental human right because everybody depends on this resource. “Access to all unequivocally includes refugees, asylum seekers and those internally displaced. Whoever you are, where ever you are, water is your right.”

Another group being left behind, according to Graham Alabaster of UN-Habitat are those living in slum settlements – or, the urban poor. These residents are not counted in reports, because they fall on the fringe between urban and rural settlements. They are low-income residents who are completely hidden by the stats.

According to Alabaster, 60 percent of urban dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa live in informal settlements. Figures for water and sanitation lag behind in these areas. Furthermore, people in these areas also lack access to education and primary healthcare. Alabaster stated that a new model for finance of services in these areas needs to be created and that the differentials between rich and poor needs to be understood. Investing in the poor is investing in the whole city – not only the poor will benefit.

In summary, the rights to water and sanitation will be achieved progressively. Progress is being made, but an immediate intervention that needs to be made is the eradication of discrimination and marginalisation. A one size fits all approach to leaving no one behind simply will not work, and those in power will need to adapt strategies to ensure future success.

Source: Capricorn Review