José María Regueira, National Director of Drinking Water and Sanitation at the Ministry of Public Works, Government of Argentina, participated in the last session on investment plans in Latin America held at INVESTAGUA on April 20.
Firstly, he explained that in Argentina there is a federal system to manage water resources, hence water and sanitation management is decentralised, with “an estimated 1,600 providers of water and sanitation services in Argentina". Therefore, there can be significant differences between the systems, institutions, and regulations that govern the sector in each jurisdiction: "91% of Argentina's population lives in urban areas, where 88.2% have access to drinking water and 63% have access to sanitation services" he said.
In this regard, the main role of the National Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation, under the Ministry of Public Works, is to implement policies and programmes pertaining to drinking water and sanitation services at the national level, and design and manage an information system with indicators to monitor service providers. Concerning investments, due to the incidence of COVID-19, in Argentina water investments increased by 200% in 2020 compared to 2019, and the figures will be even higher in 2021.
José María Regueira also noted that one of their main concerns is vulnerability. To this effect, they are evaluating the current vulnerability in the country in terms of basic unmet needs from the point of view of sanitation, that, is, homes which do not have a toilet; the most vulnerable area is the forested area in the Chaco region.
Moreover, as part of the nation's water and sanitation plans, he highlighted Argentina's Hace I and Hace II plans whose purpose is to revive local economies through infrastructure construction, with 116 ongoing projects and another 418 being assessed. In addition, he mentioned the Safe Water in Rural Areas project, the Programme to Provide WASH services in neighbourhoods without a formal network in the context of COVID-19, or the National Wastewater Treatment Plan (PNTAR), which comprises 360 plants: "the performance of the plants is poor".
Lastly, Mr Regueira described the National Information System they are developing at the Ministry of Public Works to improve policies, plans and programmes and establish management targets, assessing performance through benchmarking.