By ANNA WALNYCKI, Institute of Development Studies DPhil student
Governance and Management is one of the six key themes running through the Forum this week. Co-ordinated by UN- HABITAT, the Governance and Management sessions have explored the idea that access to water and sanitation is due to ineffective structures of governance as opposed to resource scarcity.
In contrast to previous Word Water Forums, this has brought the contentious questions of what water is and who should provide it to the forefront of the agenda. Several sessions explored the idea of the human right to water and sanitation, moving beyond the idea of water and sanitation as an economic good as well as the role of the state, private sector and the community in it’s provision.
During Tuesday’s sessions, COHRE, OHCHR and UNESCO headed up a session exploring how striving for good governance has leading to the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation in South Africa and Zambia.
Protests over recent days and at previous forums have accused the forum of being for the sole benefit of the private sector. Maude Barlow, founder of The Blue Planet Project was quoted in Monday’s Guardian as saying, “It’s really just a big trade show put on by the big water companies. There is going to be no mention of water as a human right”.
Whilst the events of recent days have proved that the aims of the conference are controversial, it should be noted that the need to build equitable structures of governance and the concept of water and sanitation as a human right are firmly on the agenda.