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World Water Day - Leaving no-one behind

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02 December 2019

World Water Day

The theme for World Water Day 2019 was ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030. By definition, this means leaving no one behindWe know that water is a precious resource. But when you can just turn on the tap it's so easy to take it for granted.

Today, billions of people are still living without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive. 

Marginalized groups – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others – are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.

‘Safe water’ is shorthand for a ‘safely managed drinking water service’: water that is accessible on the premises, available when needed, and free from contamination.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right. Access to water underpins public health and is therefore critical to sustainable development and a stable and prosperous world. We cannot move forward as a global society while so many people are living without safe water.

In 2010, the UN recognized “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.”

The human right to water entitles everyone, without discrimination, to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use; which includes water for drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, and personal and household hygiene.

People are left behind without safe water for many different reasons. The following are some of the ‘grounds for discrimination’ that cause certain people to be particularly disadvantaged when it comes to accessing water:

  • Sex and gender
  • Race, ethnicity, religion, birth, caste, language, and nationality
  • Disability, age and health status
  • Property, tenure, residence, economic and social status
  • Other factors, such as environmental degradation, climate change, population growth, conflict, forced displacement and migration flows can also disproportionately affect marginalized groups through impacts on water.

To ‘leave no one behind’, we must focus our efforts towards including people who have been marginalized or ignored. Water services must meet the needs of marginalized groups and their voices must be heard in decision-making processes. Regulatory and legal frameworks must recognise the right to water for all people, and sufficient funding must be fairly and effectively targeted at those who need it most.

Find out more here.

Compassion UK shared 30 striking water photos that make us think twice about wasting water. Here’s a valuable insight into how those living in the world’s poorest communities battle to access clean water and safe sanitation. Click here to view the images.