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Water is a human right, but the services are not

Research output: Other conference contributionPaper, poster or abstractScientific

Details

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016
EventDevelopment Day Conference 2016: Making Alternatives Visible: Resisting and Reshaping the Mainstream. - House of Science and Letters, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 11 Feb 201612 Feb 2016
http://www.kehitystutkimus.fi/conference/

Conference

ConferenceDevelopment Day Conference 2016
CountryFinland
CityHelsinki
Period11/02/1612/02/16
Internet address

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to discuss specific enabling governance and institutional conditions, how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 6 “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all” (SDG6) by 2030. The authors argue that due to obsolete policies concerning water services pricing and cost recovery, the developing countries are facing an ignored problem of aging and decaying water infrastructures. This makes the SDG6 only a vanishing dream.

Although water and sanitation are explicitly recognized as a human right, 663 million people lacked improved drinking water sources and 2.4 billion people lacked improved sanitation facilities in 2015. The United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation warns that today’s institutional framework requires a major upgrade for the world to possibly meet water and sanitation-related objectives in the 2030 Agenda. For example, underpricing of water is widespread across Africa. Therefore the sector will forgo at least USD 1.8 billion a year in revenues (0.3 percent of GDP). Underpricing has also contributed to the situation, where on average 35 percent of African water services infrastructure assets need rehabilitation.

This wicked “Problematique” requires a new systemic and systematic participatory approach involving also substantive participation by citizens and water users in the actual definition of the goals and direction of water policy, and raising awareness of the importance of water services among policy-makers, water service users and the citizens. Benefit-to-cost ratios have been reported to be as high as 7 to 1 for basic water and sanitation services. We should also be aware that the human rights framework as such does not provide for a right to free water services.

Field of science, Statistics Finland