A/77/167: Human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation of people in impoverished rural areas
15 July 2022
Water and sanitation
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation shares his reflections on the fulfilment of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation in impoverished rural communities. Most of the world’s population living in extreme poverty live in rural areas, far from urban centres, marginalized from political decisions.
Many are governed by traditional peasant cultures that sustainably manage aquatic ecosystems and promote integrated community-based water management models and ways of life and production based on circular economy approaches in their territories. The expansion of large agro-livestock, mining, forestry and tourism, based on land- and watergrabbing, depletes and pollutes sources vital to communities. This, together with the lack of basic infrastructure and government support, violates these communities’ human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation and disregards the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. As a result of the defence of their water and territories, the communities often suffer criminalization, repression and the killings of leaders and environmental human rights defenders. Recognizing and strengthening community water and sanitation systems, valuing the role of women and reinforcing their participation in decision-making, prioritizing budget allocation and protecting the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems are the basis for guaranteeing these communities human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation