Aguilar: Water is a right

Against the current

CLEAN water is not just any commodity that one can choose to purchase or not. It is essential to a dignified living as well as in keeping good health and so it is as important as the air we breathe. It would be easy to survive without electricity, but days without water is a totally different story. To have clean water therefore is a right. And as a right people are claim holders which means we can very well demand for it while the government is duty-bound to deliver such.

This human rights based paradigm is pretty much what DILG’s Salintubig is anchored on. This water program targets to provide water to all communities in the country. It has good funding from the national government because as it believes, water is a right more than anything.

I knew about this program because I was a member of the regional hub who rolled this out to the most remote waterless communities since 2013. And it worked. We were able to capacitate communities as we installed water systems in their barangays. We then trained local stakeholders to run the water system by themselves so as to sustain the program. The initiative was funded by UNDP, DILG and the Unicef.

And while we toil so hard to provide clean water in remote areas, ironically here in Bacolod water woes are about joint ventures with capitalists, outsourcing and price issues; none of which seemed to respect and promote the concept that clean water is a right. I don’t mind a joint venture if it would mean finally providing ample clean water to the people. As with price increase, I am sure safety nets can be secured in the venture through legislation. What I am most appalled about is the continuous tug of war among local forces in politics while in the meantime people have to stock water in their houses during unholy hours (well at least I do) to make sure they have enough supply of water for the day.

The lack of access to safe water puts a community to uncalled risks of sickness. Statistics has it that a child dies every 20 seconds due to diseases related to unsafe water. It is for this reason that the DILG had to pull off a team not only comprising of the government but also from the academe and private sectors to create regional hubs to address this before any of our kids would end up as part of such statistics.

Access to safe water is a right in so far as everyone has a right not just to life but to a quality life. It is crucial in attaining other rights such as right to being more productive since let us say if you live in a remote community you would not have to walk some 5 kilometers just to fetch your water rations for the day which would most likely steal a couple of hours from you that you could have spent at work. And because it is our right to have clean water, it should be affordable to all if not free on a socialized scheme.

Our local government should find the urgency to solve the city’s water woes. Whatever solution they can craft, they should have the political will to implement them regardless of adverse reactions from opposing forces just to make sure that affordable clean water is available to all inhabitants of this city.

As with the rest of us, let us learn to conserve water. Obviously it is a very scarce resource in this part of the region.


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