Human right to clean drinking water and sanitation

Sauberes Wasser für die Städte, Indonesien/Jakarta Enlarge image (© picture alliance)

Serious problem

Some 900 million people around the world have no access to clean drinking water, while 2.5 billion people have no toilet. Related illnesses kill more children than diseases such as malaria, measles and HIV/AIDS combined. Every year more than 400 million school days are lost to diarrhoeal diseases. This means that millions of children and young people are losing out on the chance to get an education and find a way out of poverty. In view of the growing global population and increasing slum formation, the problem is going to get worse. Numerous problems arise not least owing to a lack of information/education and the fact that these subjects are taboo.

Recognition as a human right Against this background Germany, along with Spain, has long been campaigning for the human right to clean drinking water and sanitation, one of the fundamental rights set forth in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In December 2013, acting on a German-Spanish initiative, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which the human right to clean drinking water and sanitation was explicitly recognised by all UN member states for the first time. The resolution calls on states to put in place appropriate frameworks, rules, investments or investment incentives to gradually improve the population’s supply situation. If the right to water is to be met, every individual must have access to an adequate supply of safe, clean, and affordable water of acceptable quality, enough for his or her personal needs. Sanitation facilities, too, must be safe, hygienic, acceptable and affordable.

(Copyright: Auswärtiges Amt)