State violating human rights by not providing water to all

THE government is responsible for gross human rights violations and the SA Human Rights Commission can prove it.

The commission released its water and sanitation report in Cape Town yesterday.

The report is far removed from the government’s flattering figures on, for example, the 91.3% of households that it says have access to piped water.

“Lurking behind the statistics is the fact that 73.4% of households have piped water inside their dwelling or yard and 17.9% have piped water outside their yard.”

“This means more than a quarter of South Africans don’t have household access to water at all.”

It found that problems related to water services included a lack of funding, political interference and corruption. Water was also viewed as a commodity.

“The result is that most of South Africa’s water is used by business, especially agribusiness, mining and other industries, at a relatively lower cost per kilolitre than poor households,” the report said.

“By not holding businesses that pollute and waste water to account, government is not protecting water as a basic human right.”

The commission said about 1.4 million homes still needed basic sanitation. “Take a map of our country. If you put it against those who don’t have rights, whether it is water or sanitation, the old map of apartheid South Africa rises like a ghost,” commission deputy chairman Pregs Govender said.

“Those who do not have rights remain … poor in [former] homelands, townships and informal settlements.” – Nashira Davids


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