Avina’s statement on water and access to sanitation services in latin america.

Latin America has approximately 630 million inhabitants and an abundance of water resources, yet 35 million Latin Americans do not have access to potable water and 106 million lack sanitation. (1)

Coincidentally, the people who lack access to water are also the poorest, and women, children, and the elderly suffer the greatest consequences. 36,000 children die each year due to a lack of proper sanitation. (2)

Furthermore, the effects associated with climate change will threaten millions of people’s access to water. (3)

In light of this problem, and within a democratic framework based on social justice, respect, and care, all human beings have the right to water and sanitation.

Avina’s position 

Fundación Avina considers the right to water and sanitation a fundamental and inalienable human right, as it is inextricably linked to human dignity and vital for sustaining life and ensuring participation in the public sphere, economic security, environmental integrity, and social cohesion.

Governments have the duty and obligation to recognize water as a common and public good. Therefore they should safeguard and ensure access to water and sanitation for the entire population, as well as conserve water resources and related natural ecosystems for current and future generations.

Fundación Avina recognizes that human consumption of potable water should be prioritized over the other possible uses of water so that the right to a life with dignity can be guaranteed.

National and local societies can decide for themselves what type of water utility operators they prefer: public, private, community-based, or a combination of the above. They can make this decision while respecting water uses and customs, the rule of law, and their own democratic decision-making processes. Regardless of the type of utility operator, governments maintain the ultimate responsibility for guaranteeing that all inhabitants have access to these services.

In Latin America, over 70 million people in rural and peri-urban communities have access to water and sanitation thanks to the services provided by more than 145.000 Community-Based Water and Sanitation Organizations (CWSOs).

Avina proposes that societies and their respective governments legally recognize community water initiatives and that they be considered fundamental partners in the implementation of universal access to water and sanitation services, especially in light of the long-deferred responsibility of governments.

Governments should ensure that the entities that are formed to provide these services guarantee citizen participation, public oversight, and transparency in the management of resources and other aspects of operation. (4)

In this way, they will help to avoid a crisis of governability, minimize food security problems, reduce poverty, and protect key ecosystems in the hydrologic cycle in a sustainable manner. (5)

The strategy 

Fundación Avina supports and facilitates collective agendas that are relevant to the entire continent and that address the Community-Based Water and Sanitation Organizations, watershed management, keeping water sources free of contamination, citizen and legal oversight mechanisms, and other related issues.

1 UNICEF/WHO 2016. JMP Report 2015

2 Numbers from a 2005 WHO report cited in: Rojas, Claudia. Humedar I, licencia para purificar el agua [online], Colombia, UNIMEDIOS, Mayo 2005. Available online at: http://historico.unperiodico.unal.edu.co/ediciones/74/16.htm

3 Amat y León, Carlos, et al. “El Cambio Climático no tiene fronteras”. [online] Lima, Perú, Secretaría General de la Comunidad Andina. May 2008. Dot Print SAC. 40 p. Available online at: http://www.comunidadandina.org/public/libro_cambioclimatico1.pdf