The United Nations world water development report 2019: leaving no one behind
The UN World Water Development Report is an annual thematic report, which focuses on ‘strategic water issues’ and offers tools to implement sustainable use of water resources. WWDR 2019, titled “leaving no one behind”, explores the question of inclusion in the accessibility of water resources for all. The report points out that 2 billion people across the world experience high water stress and 4 billion people face severe water scarcity. Further it notes that the situation is likely to intensify as demand for water grows and the effects of climate change intensify’.
‘International human rights law obliges states to work towards achieving universal access to water and sanitation for all, without discrimination, while prioritizing those most in need. Fulfillment of the human rights to water and sanitation requires that the services be available, physically accessible, equitably affordable, safe and culturally acceptable’.
Safe drinking water and sanitation are recognized as basic human rights and indispensable to sustaining healthy livelihoods. Water use has been increasing worldwide by about 1% per year since the 1980s, driven by a combination of population growth, socio-economic development and changing consumption patterns. The report predicts that water demand, globally, would increase at similar rate until 2050, accounting for an increase of 20 to 30% above the current level of water use.
The United Nations World Water Development Report, Leaving no one behind, highlights how an improved and better water resources management system and access to water supply and sanitation services are essential to addressing various social and economic inequities, such that ‘no one is left behind’ when it comes to enjoying the multiple benefits and opportunities that water provides.
The report observes that three out of ten people do not have access to safe drinking water and six out of ten people do not have access to safely managed sanitation services, and one out of nine practice open defecation.
‘Leaving no one behind’ is at the heart of the commitment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to allow all people in all countries to benefit from socio-economic development and to achieve the full realization of human rights.
Water availability depends upon the amount of water physically available, and how it is stored, managed and allocated to various users. Water accessibility refers to how water is physically delivered or obtained. Piped water is the least costly method to transport water in densely populated areas. Where piped networks are unavailable, people mostly rely on wells or community water supply systems (e.g. water delivery through kiosks and vendors, or water trucks).
Expenditure on drinking water and sanitation typically includes large capital investments, including the cost of infrastructure and connections as well as recurrent spending on operation and maintenance. Technological innovation and dissemination, the enhancement of management through good governance and increased transparency practices, and the implementation of cost-effective interventions can improve production efficiency and thus lower service costs.