Monday, April 11, 2011

Access to clean water is a respect for human dignity

Pix by P&G Give Health Clean Water Blogivation (Kenya)
The 2011 World Day for Water was marked on March 22 on the theme “Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge” and UNESCO has once again a called for the response to the immense challenges posed by water management to the entire global community.
The Director General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Ms Irina Bokova says the theme serves to remind us all that for the first time in the history of humanity, most of the world’s population is living in cities.
“Urban sprawl continues and slums, which continue to expand, represent 38 percent of this growth. Today, they are home to 1 billion people. The rise in the urban population has outstripped the development of water management, treatment and sanitation infrastructure,” Ms Bokova said.

She stresses that the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is wider than ever, at a time when the sharing of resources and access to clean water are not only minimum requirements for community life, but also for the respect of human dignity.
On April 7, 2011, The Gambia National Commission (NATCOM) for UNESCO observed the Day rather belatedly; however, its Secretary General Mrs. Sukai Bojang said the theme is resonant and relevant in our everyday live.
During the event held at the Office of the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) in Banjul, Mrs. Bojang said the United Nations (UN) Water For Life Decade 2010-2015 came up with an important call for an international decade for action, opened by former UN Secretary General Kofi Anan with the words “water is essential for life”.
She recalled that UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) launched in its first conference under the theme “Urban Water Conflict” in 2006. The objective was to focus chiefly on international water conflicts from Trans-boundary Rivers and Aquifers.
According to her, specific attention was also given to the problems of access to and affordability of water services in cities (the right to water); the public-private issue; and the environmental footprint of urban water in the hinterland of large cities as well as rainfall and runoffs.
She outlined several issues of potential causes of conflict in urban settings, among them, the quality and extension of drinking water services and their continuity; the quality and extension of waste-water collection and treatment; urban hydrology problems (storm water control); impact of large cities upon their environment, especially the use and misuse of waste resources; financing of investments; and tariff setting and cost recovery.
She noted that the later, tariff setting and cost recovery roused a heated debate among Gambians and the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) in February 2011.
Earlier on, NATCOM-UNESCO’s Programme Officer Cherno O. Barry said as the rate of rural-urban drift increases, governments and stakeholders in water management are facing several challenges in trying to avoid water crisis.
He said water management is fundamental in ensuring sustainability and availability to all, however, he added that with the constant crisis around the world, especially in Africa, water management is becoming extremely difficult.

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