Water is a right - Everyone must have access
The United Nations (UN) holds the position that water and sanitation are basic human rights. Consequently, they have direct impact on their dignity, prosperity and wellbeing.
The right to safe drinking water was first recognised by the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council as part of a binding international law on July 28, 2010.
After several preambles, the UN resolution said in part that it “Recognises the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights; Calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfer, through international assistance and cooperation, in particular to developing countries, in order to scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.”
The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) - Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000 – 2020 report is one of a number of reports that attest to the dire need of water by sections of society. These reports have also informed the stance taken by the UN to champion water as a human right which must not be denied anyone.
The JMP report noted, among other things, that “in 2020, around one in four people lacked safely managed drinking water in their homes and nearly half the world’s population lacked safely managed sanitation.”
This makes the issue of potable water very critical, because although often referred to as basic, billions of people globally and thousands locally are still living without safely managed water and sanitation.
While it is one of the reasons citizens are taxed so that the government could provide those needed facilities or amenities, it is no secret that single-handedly shouldering that responsibility has become burdensome to the government.
The Daily Graphic, therefore, finds it heartwarming and worthy of mention that the ECOWAS Commission has constructed a $10,000 mechanised water system to provide Potrase, a cocoa farming community in the Abuakwa South District of the Eastern Region, with potable water.
By that act, the commission has fulfilled the provision in the UN Resolution to scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.
What’s more, the residents will no longer have to rely on the raw and unclean water from the Densu River. Neither will they have to trek long distances in search of water, which, most times, is unclean.
Notwithstanding this laudable act, we urge the sub-regional body not to end it there with the provision of potable water for the people of Potrase, since there are more communities in dire need of potable water who are also crying for help across the country.
Currently, according to the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC 2021), as released by the Ghana Statistical Service, 87.7 per cent of the populace have access to basic water supply services.
However, there is a disparity between urban and rural communities, as about 96.4 per cent of the urban populace have access to basic water supply services while 74.4 per cent of the rural populace have access to basic water supply services.
The PHC 2021 also states that about eight per cent of Ghanaian households continue to rely on unsafe sources, while despite the apparent high access to safe water in urban areas, sachet water dominates with about 52 people out of 100 depending on it, with only about 34 people out of 100 depending on pipe-borne water.
At a Sector Ministers’ Meeting held in May 2022, the ministers stated that their vision was to have about 70 per cent of the
populace/households in urban/peri-urban and 50 per cent in rural areas connected to a piped water network and using safely managed water services by 2030.
We can only hope that this vision is achieved in the next seven years but time is not on our side to ensure that no one’s right is trampled upon when it comes to the provision and access to clean and safe water.
That can, however, be only achieved when governments decline to play politics with the people’s access to water.
Let us encourage international and local organisations, individuals, churches, and, indeed, anyone who wants to assist in the provision of potable water to a community, by removing any obstacles that may hamper that realisation.
As much as possible, let us limit the commercialisation of water and see it as a basic human right so that all will have access.