Water, a substance from which life is thought to have originated and which is necessary for all living organisms. The importance of water exceeds its importance in health, family, politics, economy, environment and culture. If we neglect any of these aspects, we run the risk of misusing these finite, unchangeable resources. SDG-6 is to ensure that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. Unless we have a clear idea of its real, multidimensional meaning, we will be able to save this precious resource for all.
As Bangladesh is a riverine country, many will estimate its abundant water resources. Although the country has abundant resources, access to clean water for all is far from reality. WaterAid reports that about 24,000 kilometers of rivers flow through the fertile lands of Bangladesh. However, according to Water.org, more than 2 million people do not have access to improved water sources and 47 million do not have access to improved sanitation in the country. These two pieces of information show how abundant water abundance cannot always ensure equitable distribution and conservation in Bangladesh. While Bangladesh has made significant progress over the years in providing clean water and sanitation to the people, the country still has a long way to go. Although 98% of Bangladeshis have access to clean water, 40% of the population has access to adequate sanitation and 60% of the population has access to contaminated water.
The population of Bangladesh plays an important role behind the lack of access to clean water and sanitation. Natural disasters such as cyclones, floods, river bank erosion, drought, salinity infiltration only make it stronger when SDG-6 is operational. Lack of access to clean water and healthy products in times of crisis puts women and children at greater risk. Mortality among children due to waterborne diseases is very high. Surface water and groundwater sources are contaminated by harmful organic and inorganic pollutants. Access to clean water is important to prevent future public health crises. The presence of arsenic in the northern groundwater, such as water poisoning anyone who drinks it, illustrates why necessities such as access to clean water have become a luxury for people from disadvantaged families that they cannot afford. At this time of the Covid-19 epidemic, we have seen how clean water and sanitation can save countless lives.
Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a human right recognized by the United Nations through a 74/292 resolution. These resolutions call on states and international organizations to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation to all, especially developing countries, with financial resources, capacity building assistance, and technological contributions. Organizations such as WaterAid, the United Nations Development Program, and UNICEF have made great strides in ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, as well as the government, but much more needs to be done to ensure universal access to these basic necessities.
HRWST has been recognized as an international legal instrument for human rights treaties, declarations and other standards. Some commentators have derived the human right to water fromthe International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights outside the resolution of the General Assembly and have made it binding under international law. Other treaties that explicitly recognize HRWS include the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The first resolutions on HRWS were passed by the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council in 2010.They acknowledged that there was a human right to sanitation linked to the human right to water, since the lack of sanitation reduces the low flow of water, so subsequent discussions continue to emphasize both rights together. In July 2010, UN General Assembly Resolution / 4/222 recognized the right to human water – safe, affordable, and access to clean and accessible water and sanitation services.Recognition of enjoyment and recognition of all human rights, including safe and pure drinking water, as well as sanitation as a human right. Reliable and clean water and sanitation services will work to the fullest of a productive and healthy life by widely recognizing the importance of access.An amended UN resolution in 2015 highlighted that the two rights were separate but equal.
A clear definition of human rights to water was issued by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in General Comment2002.It was a non-binding explanation that access to water was a condition of enjoyment Achieving quality is inextricably linked with rights, and therefore a human right. It states:The human right to water gives everyone the right to adequate, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.
Ensure the availability of water and sanitation for all and its sustainable management.To achieve that goal, states have agreed to do the following:
1. Ensuring safe water availability for all.
2. Ensuring sanitation for all (safe sewerage and improved waste management) and building public awareness to develop healthy hygiene practices.
3. Regularly check the quality of water to prevent pollution. Prevent the release of chemicals or contaminants into the water.
4. Ensuring optimal use of water; Build infrastructure for its reuse.
5. Raise awareness so that communities can play an active role in improving their water management and sanitation.
HRWS forces governments to ensure that they can enjoy quality, available, acceptable, accessible and affordable water and sanitation. Generally, a rule of thumb for water conservation is that it should not exceed 3-5% of household income.Water availability considers whether the water supply is adequate, reliable, and sustainable.Considers the quality of the water, whether the water is safe to drink, including other activities, including drinking.
ICESCR signatory countries are required to achieve and respect all human rights in a timely manner, including water and sanitation.They must work quickly and efficiently to increase access and improve services.
ZannatulMouwa Naz is a Student of the Environmental Science and Engineering at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University Trishal, Mymensingh, Bangladesh