Right to water

Resolution 64/292 from 28 July 2010 accepted by the United Nations General Assembly established that the realization of all the human rights cannot be continued without satisfying the essential human needs which are clean drinking water and sanitation. This Resolution draws the attention of States and international organizations to the problem of lack of these essentials in developing countries and thus, the urgent need for financial help to improve the situation. Safe, clean and accessible water and sanitation have to be provided for all.

What is needed?

  • World Health Organisation (WHO) informs that 50-100 liters of water is needed for one person per day, in order to enable him or her to satisfy the basic needs. The water supplies must be sufficient and continuous, so as to make it possible to satisfy the needs of drinking, personal sanitation, hygiene, washing clothes and preparing meals.
  • The water must be safe which means that it is free from dangerous organisms or substances. There are the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for drinking-water quality which specify the needed standards ensuring safety of drinking water.
  • Water and sanitation must be within easy reach for everyone. WHO established that the source of water has to be placed no further than 1,000 meters from the home and the time to get water cannot be longer than 30 minutes.
  • Water has to be affordable for everybody. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) informs that water cost per household should be not higher than 3 percent of its whole income.
  • Water must be acceptable. All water facilities and services must operate in accordance with certain culture and gender, lifecycle and privacy requirements.

Drinking water facts

  • Rural regions of Sub-Saharan Africa rely on unprotected wells which are potential sources of many pathogens. Millions of the inhabitants in this area share water sources with animals.
  • Women in Africa and Asia go averagely 6 kilometers to get water for their household.
  • In Europe the average amount of water used every day is somewhere between 200-300 liters. Less than 10 liters of water is used in Mozambique, which is caused by the long distance between the water source and home.
  • A lactating woman needs about 7.5 liters of water a day.
  • Around half of the people living in developing countries suffer from illnesses caused by bad water and sanitation conditions. Unsafe water and poor sanitation are together the second biggest children killer in the world.
  • In Tajikistan a third of inhabitants uses water from canals and irrigation ditches.
  • In Senegal over a half of 5000 surveyed schools had no water supply and almost a half had no sanitation facilities. If there is sanitation at school, often it is for both boys and girls, which results in girls avoiding using it.
  • In slum areas of Jakarta, Manila and Nairobi water costs are 5 to 10 times higher than in high-income areas in those same cities and in London or New York.

UN initiatives to solve the problem:

  • Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/18/1
  • World Health Assembly Resolution 64/24
  • Appointment of an independent expert