More solidarity for water
According to official statistics hundreds of millions of people do have access to water, but the water is of bad quality, supplies are not continuous or the price is prohibitive for an impoverished population.
In order to realise this right to access to water for everyone, more solidarity with regard to water and water policy will be needed at all levels.
The costs for a minimal quantity must be borne in the first place by the community, as is now for example the case in Flanders for 15 cubic meters per person per year. For usage that exceeds this basis quantity, the consumer is charged. The latter can be an element of demand control and solidarity.
In the meantime, the "Vlaams Partnerschap Water voor Ontwikkeling” (Dutch) (“The Flemish Partnership Water for Development”) wishes to contribute to the Millennium Goals with regard to drinking water and sanitation by a reinforced cooperation of the Flemish actors involved in development cooperation and/or water management.
However, with regard to "solidarity water" the Netherlands and France are already way ahead. In the Netherlands there is the foundation Aqua for All, in short A4A. The latter was founded in 2002 by the Dutch public water sector in order to join forces in the field of development cooperation. With the sector’s money and knowledge, A4A aims at promoting a sustainable development of drinking water supplies, sanitation and water management in developing countries. Almost all water companies and several water basin committees support A4A financially, if requested linked to specific projects. A4A itself does not recruit money from customers, but wherever necessary supports the organisations in their own recruitment actions. The water sector’s input (approximately 1.5 million euro per year) is supplemented with subsidies of governments and donors.
On 10 February 2005 the law Oudin, or "la petite loi d'eau", appeared in the French Bulletin of Acts, Orders and Decrees. This law allows municipalities and public intercommunal organisations to place up to maximum 1% of their budgets for provision of public water and sanitation services in France at the disposal of international cooperation or emergency aid concerning water and sanitation, either directly with the partners in the South, or by means of European or international organisations.
Also, the international community needs to show more solidarity in order to be able to provide the water-poor with water in the short term. On the one hand the OECD countries must keep their promise to spend 0.7% of their Gross National Product (GNP) on development cooperation. Belgium is slowly evolving towards this. On the other hand, in consultation with the partner countries from the South, they must reserve a larger share of the development money for the water sector.
To help to reach the goals concerning water and sanitation, the EU, one of the strong advocates for the Millennium Goals concerning water, has recently established the ACP-EU Water Initiative. This is a separate budget line that supports programmes providing access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.