Andrew S. Jouravlev, a resource economist with CEPAL (Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe - a UN agency; English acronym: ECLAC) sent this PDF of a PPT he recently gave at a meeting in Buenos Aires:
It is in Spanish, but as Jouravlev said, most English-speakers will be able to understand it. If you are unable to read it, he sent along the main points:
- Water supply and sanitation services are important for various reasons (in addition to public health considerations): new arguments for effective sector prioritization in public policies and help in search for alliances for sector development.
- A vast majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries (76%) have already reached or are likely to achieve the MDG for access to water.
- In the case of sanitation, majority of countries (54%) are unlikely to reach the MDG, but about a third have already achieved the goal.
- It is worth noting that in most countries (73% for water supply and 80% for sanitation) the rate of expansion of coverage actually has slown down since 2000 (in comparison with the 1990s) or remained without change; in the very few, it has accelerated. This slowdown in coverage expansion since 2000 contrasts with more favourable economic conditions in the 2000s in comparison with the 1990s. So, are MDGs in water and sanitation a real priority for the governments?
As for the definition of MDG for the future (post-2015), their current definition, based on technology, fails to consider a number of very relevant qualitative aspects of access:
Service quality: For example, is it acceptable to count as access to water, intermittent service --water that is actually available a few hours a day or a few days a week, or water that must be boiled before consumption? So, should service quality be considered in the definition of any future goals?
Affordability: Water tariffs have increased is many countries towards self financing but few countries have effective subsidy systems for the poor. As a result, in many larger cities, the poor pay up to 10% (and more) for official service (not water vendors). Should affordability be considered in the definition of any future goals?
Technological solutions: Now almost all forms of coverage/access, most minimally acceptable technological solutions, are counted towards coverage, but at least in most cities in our region, people demand, aspire to and usually can afford piped access (water and sewerage)? Also there are cities in which use of alternative solutions have led to groundwater pollution. Should not the definition of access be made more rigorous in terms of acceptable (site-specific) technology?
Sustainability: Since tariffs often still do not cover the full cost of service provision, service providers seldom invest in infrastructure replacement as needed and many water sources are destroyed or threatened by pollution, are any achievements sustainable?
Service cycle: Should we limit future goals to access to its narrowest sense or rather also include --as would be expected-- at the very least, wastewater treatment and watershed protection?
Efficiency: Should it be reflected somehow in the definition of any future goals, since it is critical both for equity --reduces costs and makes access more affordable-- and service sustainability?
Human rights: The recognition of human rights to water and sanitation implies rapid, deliberate and specific steps towards immediately ensuring a basic level of access to all, so we should speak in terms of progress towards universal access, or not?
Finally: In view of all of the above, should not any objectives be city/area/country specific? Obviously, countries are at a different level of economic development and can afford different forms of access, and what is appropriate in a sparsely populated rural area with abundant unpolluted water is likely to be unacceptable in a city of millions in a water scarce area.
These points are on target.
"They [foreigners] come and tell us how to make latrines in our homes. I’m sure we can do it ourselves." - Unknown