MINDFULLY GREENIE: And, then there was none…

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos March 14,2019 - 07:34 AM

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos

One fine day, you wake up, open the faucet, and, horrors, there is not a drop of water that comes out.

In a crisis situation, realizations prop up: one is admitting that you are woefully ill-prepared to handle it; second, it might be for the long haul as no one knows when it will end; and third, you don’t feel government exists to protect you – the saddest part.

Did the Constitution not say that government exists to protect and serve the people? Water is a basic human need and it is a human right, right?

“On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.”

To repeat, Water must be:

Sufficient. The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene.

Safe. The water required for each personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from micro-organisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person’s health.”

Acceptable. Water should be of an acceptable colour, odour and taste for each personal or domestic use.

Physically accessible. Everyone has the right to a water and sanitation service that is physically accessible within, or in the immediate vicinity of the household, educational institution, workplace or

Affordable.Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all…”

Having sufficient, safe, acceptable, accessible and affordable drinking water is seemingly a pipe dream for millions of afflicted Filipinos including Metro Manila residents who have had no water since Monday.

The reason/s for this unsavory state one can just hazard a guess as there is no announcement from government, including the National Water Resource Board, the agency that “coordinates and regulates all water-related activities in the country that has impact on the physical environment and the economy.”

A paper of Ms. Pacita Barba from the National Water Resource Board cited the challenges on water resource management in the country: weak institutional framework, with 30 government agencies and departments separately dealing with water supply, irrigation, hydropower, flood control, pollution, watershed management, among others; disparities between water supply and demand which refers to water scarcity and lack of data, and environmental degradation/water-related disasters attributable to population growth and humanity’s impact on land and water resources.

The crisis should compel key decision-makers and citizens to work together to ensure, in the words of Ms. Barba,  that water resources management to be  “decentralized, participatory and community-based and conducted at the lowest appropriate level.”

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