The representative of the Solomon Islands said that for many least developed countries, access to clean drinking water and better sanitation was a real challenge, especially among women and children. The rising seas had caused salt water to seep into groundwater supplies in small island developing States, leaving local water supplies for human and agricultural consumption brackish. Those nations were also grappling with coastal erosion, drought, floods and king tides. To address such “water poverty”, tangible programmes and resources to ensure sustainable water must be incorporated into overall development frameworks.
New Zealand’s representative pointed to a recent report on the issue’s impact in the Pacific region, which revealed that the most pressing concern for Pacific families was access to water and sanitation. Extreme weather events threatened to damage or destroy water infrastructure, while sea-level rise could threaten the availability of safe, clean drinking water. Atoll communities were particularly vulnerable, while growing urbanization was straining existing supply systems. To address those concerns, New Zealand was supporting improvements in rainwater harvesting and distribution infrastructure in the Cook Islands and other areas.
The Permanent Observer of Palestine said Israel continued to violate the Palestinian people’s right to water and sanitation by exploiting 90 per cent of the shared water sources for its own use, forcing Palestinians to survive on just 10 to 30 litres per day per capita, far below 100 litre daily minimum set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Israel had not supported General Assembly resolution 64/292, which stated that clean drinking water and sanitation were integral to the realization of all human rights. On the contrary, Israel had destroyed several cisterns, wells and other water infrastructure, he said, urging the international community to ensure Israel respected the human right to clean water and sanitation; allocated shared water resources equitably and immediately stopped destroying Palestinian water and sanitation infrastructure.
Some delegates shed light on their nations’ strategies to implement the goals set forth in the Assembly resolution. For example, Kyrgyzstan’s representative said that with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), his Government was carrying out new projects to ensure its population had access to clean drinking water. It recently had installed water pipes in 550 villages across the country — a move that had increased access to water and lowered the prevalence of infectious diseases. The Government recently passed the Drinking Water Act, along with related legislation, to that end.
India’s representative, quoting national hero Mahatma Gandhi, said “sanitation is even more important than independence”. But Mr. Gandhi’s dream of total sanitation for all was elusive; India was still confronted with widespread lack of sanitation and about 12 per cent of its population lacked safe drinking water, posing a major challenge to India’s development goals. Addressing that issue as a matter of priority, in the past five years, India had increased investment in rural sanitation by as much as six times. Its Total Sanitation Campaign focused on the demand-side to effect change through local community leadership, while nearly 300 villages were being added to the drinking water supply network each day.