Fresh water to eradicate poverty: Norwegian Church Aid understanding the issues

Fresh water to eradicate poverty: Norwegian Church Aid understanding the issues

Exploration of the relationship between poor freshwater access and destitution

Freshwater supply is not a priority of the rich countries in their development agendas for the poor countries. Yet this paper suggests that it is the most important indicator of destitution. This paper argues that it is necessary for affluent OECD nations to allocate at least 1% of GDP to assuring access to freshwater supply in poor nations. Further, it is feasible to convert the external debt of the poor nations into a Water Fund to facilitate access to fresh water for the poorest communities. This is an effective strategy towards the alleviation of poverty, consistent with the Millennium Development Goals.

The paper examines the problem of access to freshwater supply, which is one of the most serious problems of destitution. The paper is framed by ten key principles:

  • fresh water is the most important resource for sustainable livelihood
  • access to affordable freshwater supply is a human right
  • campaigns for human rights must necessarily include access to freshwater supply
  • destitution is directly related to lack of access to freshwater supply. Therefore, to eradicate destitution it is essential to plan for all communities in all habitats to have access to freshwater supply
  • water supply infrastructure determines the level of economic development
  • to eradicate poverty, priority must be given to freshwater supply for the most vulnerable communities
  • destitute nations will need concerted international support to achieve the goal of supplying fresh water to their societies
  • faith-based organisations have a unique role in the achievement of this goal
  • privatisation of freshwater supplies restricts access for the majority of poor people
  • the principle of cost-reduction, cost-recovery, and cost recycling (3CR).

Final civil society recommendations include:

  • prioritisation of water, sanitation and human settlement issues and securing their integration into poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs), MDG Reports and national sustainable development strategies and other national plans
  • participation of all stakeholders ensuring good communication, coordination and cooperation between government, non-government and private sector activities
  • establishment of sound, fair and equitable legal systems for water resource management and water-related disaster management
  • full rejection of trade liberalisation of water and waste water services under the WTO GATS and ensuring the harmonisation of trade and environmental agreements within the framework shaped by principles of sustainable development
  • development of appropriate indicators to refl ect the importance of water for sustainable development and poverty eradication and the compilation of good practices relating to water and sanitation.
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