Water researcher says focus on people, not infrastructure

A young girl drinks water. Photo by: Middle East Children's Alliance / CC BY

Providing all people with access to clean water should be heart and center to global efforts to improve the world’s water sector.

This is according to Jaime Skinner of the International Institute for Environment and Development, who argues at the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog that international meetings like the ongoing World Water Forum in France should be less concerned about ways to build new water facilities and focus instead on “changing the discourse to put people — as individuals with equal rights — center stage.”

Skinner suggests the forum and similar meetings would be more significant if they adopt the principle that “everyone should drink clean water all the time” by 2030. The current target included in the Millennium Development Goals is to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

Adopting such a principle will require a new focus on “maintaining current infrastructure, deciding who should pay for the upkeep, and ensuring that water is available to all every single day of every single year,” Skinner says.

Skinner’s proposal echoes calls by nongovernmental organizations for the World Water Forum to recognize water and sanitation as human rights.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.