On 28 July 2020 we mark the tenth anniversary of the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation by the United Nations General Assembly (A/RES/64/292). In the midst of this health crisis, this date reminds us of the vital importance of universal access to water and sanitation and raises questions about the progress made on this matter. On this occasion, French associations are mobilising through the campaign “Water is a right”.
What have we achieved 10 years on?
The challenges of universal access to water and sanitation remain enormous in France and around the world: 2.2 billion people across the globe live without access to clean water and 4.2 billion people do not have access to safe sanitation facilities. On mainland France, 1.4 million people have no access to clean water and 7.5 million do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. In France’s overseas territories, these figures are even more alarming, revealing drastic living conditions.
The Covid-19 epidemic has made the vital need for water and the injustices associated with it extremely visible: how can you avoid the spread of the virus by washing your hands regularly if access to water is not guaranteed? The billions of people who do not have access to these essential services are even more exposed to the coronavirus pandemic, but also to numerous other avoidable illnesses, such as diarrhoea, cholera, measles, pneumonia or hepatitis A.
Our action: water is right campaign
To mark 10 years of the right to water, a coalition of over 30 associations has launched the campaign “Water is a right!” It has drawn up a Manifesto with 5 key recommendations to mobilise the French government and to lobby the municipal election candidates in France.
152 municipal elected officials are signatories to this Manifesto in France and Overseas, including 52 mayors (including the mayors of Bordeaux, Tours, Poitiers, Lyon, Grenoble, Lille, and Rennes). The stakes are high, because local authorities have the competences and the leverage to take action for water in their area: water fountain facilities, public toilets and showers, social and progressive water pricing, strengthening citizen participation in water management. Mechanisms also exist for international action, through decentralised water and sanitation solidarity projects, primarily via 1% solidarity water.
At national level, a robust political response must stem from the government to integrate the human right to water and sanitation into domestic legislation and mobilise the local authorities to promote water and sanitation rights in France (notably by facilitating the introduction of a water voucher at the national level). At international level, France, at one time a champion of international solidarity on water, should be spearheading the implementation of the human right to water and sanitation through ambitious and effective Official Development Assistance (APD for its French acronym) for the water sector.
Edith Guiochon : email@example.com / 01 70 91 92 69
The “Water is a right!” campaign involves a coalition of over 30 associations committed to the key issues of the right to water and sanitation and mobilised to implement this right effectively both in France and internationally. Find out more on the campaign’s website: leauestundroit.fr