Saturday, February 18, 2012

Uruguay: Uruguay urged to provide access to water to poor communities

17 February 2012 – UN

An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on Uruguayan authorities to implement measures to provide access to health and sanitation to its poorest and most marginalized communities.

“Uruguay has achieved significant progress in terms of access to water and sanitation, but it is now urgent to prioritize access for vulnerable and marginalized individuals,” said Special Rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque, who recently finished a visit to Uruguay.

“Every person without exception must have access to drinking water and sanitation in an affordable, acceptable, available and safe form,” Ms. Albuquerque stressed during a press conference. “States must continually adopt measures to ensure that access to these fundamental rights is guaranteed,” she added.

Ms. Albuquerque emphasized that the right to sanitation goes beyond sewerage and urged authorities to adopt a national plan that focuses on alternative sanitation options.

“The water and energy services regulatory unit must be given more capabilities and independence, as well as more financial and human resources so it can monitor these essential rights,” she said.

“It is important that Uruguay knows how to maintain the progress it has achieved, which is why it is essential that the Government reinforce its monitoring and controlling capacities of big agro-industrial and mining projects,” she noted.

During her visit this week, Ms. Albuquerque visited various neighbourhoods in Montevideo, the capital, and in other parts of the country. She also met with local authorities as well as with representatives of civil society.

Ms. Albuquerque will present her full report on the visit to the UN Human Rights Council in September this year.