World’s Poor Pay More For Clean And Safe Water Than The Rich, Says UN

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Safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation facilities are a basic human right. Yet, according to the United Nations (UN), 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe and affordable drinking water, and another 4.3 billion people don’t have access to sanitation facilities.

The UN released these rather dismal figures In their World Water Development Report 2019 which was made public just before the observance of World Water Day (March 22).

According to them, if exclusion and inequality will not be assessed ASAP, efforts to provide water and sanitation would fail to reach those places and people who are most in need.

“Exclusion, discrimination, entrenched power asymmetries, poverty and material inequalities are among the main obstacles to fulfilling the human rights to water and sanitation and achieving the water-related goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said the UN report.

Uneven flow

The problem of where to get clean and safe water is a subject of some urgency in the Philippines right now.

According to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), the Philippines will be needing about P1 trillion in investments in order to be able to finance and meet the end goal of having clean and safe water for all by the year 2030.

More than half of that amount, around P734 billion, would have to be invested over the next four years, until 2023, as per Assistant Neda Secretary Peralta.

(Read: Manila Water Service Interruption: 5 Ways To Reduce Water Use (And Lower Your Bill))

The UN considers rapid urbanization as one of the contributing factors behind the problem of the shortage of water supply in the world. They have created various programs tailored to ensure that affordable water supply and sanitation services will soon be available for everybody.

Such programs are targeted towards specific groups working hand in hand to find a solution and achieve centralized water and sanitation systems for all.

“While larger centralized water and sanitation systems provide opportunities for resource-sharing and economies of scale in high-density urban communities, less costly decentralized systems have been shown to be successful in smaller urban settlements,” the UN said.

This is the reason why the UN is calling for bigger investments to fund water services especially for consumers who need them most.

Where’s my water?

People in the slum areas are often the ones who are paying more to gain access to clean and safe waters, said Stefan Uhlenbrook, coordinator of the World Water Assessment Program.

“It is insane that often in slum areas, people have to pay more for a volume of water than people living in better-off neighborhoods,” Uhlenbrook said in a statement.

According to him, slum dwellers who do not have the piped-in access to water and sanitation pay as much as 20 percent more. Given that, they will instead depend on water sold by water vendors on kiosks, and similar alternative resources, which may pose certain hazards due to sanitation issues.

“While the wealthy generally receive high levels of service at low prices, the poor often pay a much higher price for services of similar, or lesser quality,” he said.

(Read: World’s Top 26 Billionaires Own As Much As The Poorest 3.8 Billion)

As per the report he made regarding the importance of clean and safe waters for all, it is indicated there that the economy will benefit if only governments of different countries in need will try to invest in water supply and sanitation in general. This is beneficial particularly for those people who are disadvantaged and vulnerable to the potential dangers of unclean and unsafe waters.

“Evidence suggests that the return on investment in water supply and sanitation services can be considerably high, especially when broader macroeconomic benefits are taken into account. Although the support of the international donor community will remain critical in the developing world, it will remain incumbent upon national governments to dramatically increase investments,” it said.

Clean and safe water for all

In a report conducted by the World Water Assessment Program, by coordinator Stefen Uhlenbrook in general, it shows that the Philippines was among the majority of the countries worldwide where at least 90% of the population enjoys “basic drinking water services”.

In addition to, our country was also among those countries where only less than half of the population, the worst-situated minority, have access to “basic sanitation services”, and the rest, none at all.

All that said, indeed sanitation is a problem and it is getting out of control. Positive measures and solutions to get to the bottom of it should be carried out as soon as possible so that when natural calamities hit, the water situation in the country would at least be better and those people below the poverty threshold will not be further limited in getting access to water and sanitation services.

SOURCES: The Philippine Daily Inquirer

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