1.1 Guarantee access to water for all and the Right to water

Key organisations :
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (Coordinator),  Aquafed, Coalition Eau, Water and Sanitation Programme

In 1990 77% of the world population used an “improved source” of water as defined by the WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program. End 2008 this percentage had been increased to 87% and the number of people without access to improved water sources had been reduced to around 900 million giving hope to reaching the MDG target on access to water by 2015. However, progress is not evenly shared by all countries. Furthermore, billions of people need an access to water that is better than today. Not reflected in the above figures are people who are using water that is unsafe although it comes from improved water sources. Not reflected are also people who cannot use enough water because they face prohibitive costs or long walking and waiting times for collecting water, who receive water at occasional intervals, or who have to collect water from dangerous areas. Furthermore, in several areas, there is no progress but regress of conditions of life because the development of water services is outpaced by demographic growth. More ambitious plans are necessary in both rural and urban halves of the world (Targets 2 and 3). In this context, the 2010 global recognition of the human right to safe drinking water confirms that more should be done to improve access to drinking water in the world. Indeed, this right guarantees all people access to sufficient quantities of safe, physically accessible, acceptable and affordable drinking water without discrimination. Although there is no global statistics available to number the people who do not benefit from this type of water, it is estimated that their number exceeds several billions. However, this absence of statistics makes it difficult to track progress with respect of these different characteristics of water used by people. Target 4 aims at identifying how appropriate statistics could be built. The above water characteristics that are required by the human right to water are known by practitioners who are used to improve water safety, availability, affordability, etc. Though the recent recognition of the human right to water is an historical step for the water and human development sector, its implementation, built on practical experience, needs to be further developed. A key challenge of the 6th World Water Forum is to create the common understanding between the Human rights sector and the Water sector that is necessary for effective action. To stimulate this common understanding, Target 1 aims at gathering examples of effective public policies that specifically target one or several of the above characteristics in order to make the practical implications of the right to water visible and to create a practical linkage between the two sectors. Out of the many bottlenecks that hinder progress towards a better access to water the preparatory process of the Priority for action 1.1 has selected two obstacles: the ignorance by decision-makers of water challenges in areas where there is no water services provided by a utility mandated by a government. Target 5 aims at organizing simple reporting mechanisms that allow identifying deficiencies and monitoring progress throughout a country. the need for local governments/utilities that the central government organizes legal, institutional and financial frameworks that enable them to perform their tasks. In particular, in countries where water services are decentralized more central government should make sure that local utilities are able to borrow at reasonable conditions the amounts that are necessary to make the investments needed. Target 4 aims at creating this enabling framework.