South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Experts on Saturday urged the government to ensure people’s rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Speaking at a function following a rally ‘Walk for Water’, they said the government was not serious about people’s rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

“If the government wants to meet the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG)-2015 and national goal of providing safe drinking water to all by 2017, it should formulate a concrete action plan,” said Ashutosh Tiwari, the country representative of Water Aid Nepal. Under the MDG, the government has to provide sanitation facility to at least 53 percent population of the country by 2015.

Tiwari said the government is not concerned with the citizens’ rights to water. As a result, 10,500 children below five years of age die of diarrhoea every year in the country.

According statisticis at Water Aid Nepal, 14 million people do not have access to sanitation and 7.1 million lack accesses to safe drinking water in the country. Nearly 50 percent of those without access to sanitation and almost two thirds of those without safe drinking water live in the Tarai region. However, the statistics of the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage shows nearly 16 million people (57 percent of the total population) still defecates in open places in lack of toilets.

However, speaking at the same function, Constituent Assembly member Nabindra Raj Joshi expressed commitment to declare sanitation and water as fundamental rights in the new constitution.

The function was organised jointly by civil society organisations working in water and sanitation sector, Water Aid Nepal, Standard Chartered Bank and Rotary International, Kathmandu district chapter. The participants had walked nearly six kilometers to communicate a symbolic message that millions of people walk six kilometers on an average every day to fetch water for their basic needs.