Worldwide 2.2 billion people lack access to drinking water and 4.2 billion lack access to basic sanitation. These dramatic figures are the cause of crucial health, economic and social problems that translate into health issues, reduce security for people, prompt dropping out of school, increase income loss due to the time spent carrying water, encourage social discrimination and are a driver, unlike any other, of gender inequality and exploitation.
These serious claims, which a large portion of the population is unaware of, and which from this sector we assume with deep regret, are one of the main challenges to be addressed in our current world, and one of the key motivations to continue with our work.
The Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals started in 2020. And this has been a year unlike any others. The COVID-19 pandemic struck in the first months, generating an unprecedented international health crisis, knocking down many of the certainties we thought set in stone.
Now is the time to stand side by side and not step back. In the past few years, there has been great progress in terms of water and sanitation across the globe, despite the great economic recession of 2009. The coronavirus must not hinder that progress, but act as an incentive for us not to let up in our efforts.
The coronavirus must not hinder that progress, but act as an incentive for us not to let up in our efforts
In this scenario, the charismatic front cover of this issue of Smart Water Magazine Monthly features Catarina de Albuquerque. The lawyer and CEO of Sanitation and Water for All goes one step beyond and hits the nail on the head with the solutions: closing the gap in access to water and sanitation does not only entail collecting donations to build wastewater treatment plants or install pipes. The only way ahead requires improving water governance at all levels.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, a role Catarina fulfilled until 2014, has made the news. Pedro Arrojo, from Spain, has been appointed the new Rapporteur during the meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. A Doctor in Physics, professor at the University of Zaragoza, expert in water economics, founder of the New Water Culture Foundation (Fundación Nueva Cultura del Agua) and Goldman Environment Prize recipient, he follows up on the work of Léo Heller after Mr Heller’s six years on the role.
We would like to encourage and wish the best of luck to Catarina and Pedro in their respective positions, and to all who work with passion in this amazing water sector. As Catarina says in her interview referring to the old proverb: if we want to go far, we have to go together.