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22 March - Water for all... no exception

20 March, 2019
As we celebrate World Water Day one week after the successful global students strike for climate, similarities between the two events find an echo in the frustration with political systems which refuse to address obvious and urgent needs of the people.

Lack of access to water, like climate chaos, presents existential threats to all living species.

More than 2 billion people suffer and die needlessly due to lack of access to safe water. More than 780,000 die each year from diarrhoea and cholera linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation. Almost 90% of natural disasters are water-related, and with climate change, this impact will be worse.

Yet there is too little action.

UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 mandates universal access to water and sanitation by 2030. However, the UN promises that private finance will supply much of the investment capital for infrastructure.

Water provision and sanitation infrastructure must be excluded from predatory private investment, as well as Health, Education, Energy and Justice.

PSI is shocked by this collective delusion in the UN and in our national governments.  Private capital goes where it can maximise profits which means it will not go into poor neighbourhoods or rural areas – unless of course there are massive public subsidies and guarantees.

We are already witnessing the damage caused to people and the environment by the commodification of natural resources. And it’s time to stop all this.

There was a time when banking and finance served our communities, but that time is steadily receding. Today, finance serves itself and a tight circle of allies. The sooner we see that, the sooner we understand that the blended and innovative finance approaches of the World Bank, the OECD and much of the UN will only serve to allow finance to work its wealth extraction magic in water and sanitation and all the other public services. Also, the proposals for blended and innovative finance will require more complex PPPs. 

We need to finish with this ideology that sees government as harmful, and which seeks to place everyone in the supposed meritocracy of the market-based system.

  • We need policies which give government the room to do the work that the people mandate;
  • We need skilled public servants with decent wages and working conditions; 
  • We need to be able to finance those public services which serve all of us;
  • We need tax systems that implement real tax justice for all, including the rich and multinational corporations.

PSI’s mandate is to fight for social justice and equity, and access to water and sanitation is one of the main building blocks. 

The Right to Water, recognized only in 2010, continues to gather strength. UN Water, which is the body coordinating the 30 UN organisations working on water and sanitation, published a series of 14 posters which evoke the importance of access to water and sanitation for all. PSI is a partner with UN Water, and we encourage affiliates to share the messages. See some of them:

The theme for 2019 World Water Day is “Leaving No One Behind.” Refugees and forcibly displaced populations are among those who are often deprived of access to safe water and sanitation. 

PSI and its affiliates in the water sector are working with host communities to ensure the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons to public water and other basic services. Together, we join the call as a global community: “’Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right”.

Download and print our poster

Also see