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Access to water in Cameroon: A right or a privilege?
International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right.
March 22, 2019 – Yaounde – Millions of Cameroonians still live without safe water. As the country joins the international community to celebrate World Water Day, the African Center for Advocacy (ACA) urges the government to increase its efforts to ensure continuous access to safe water for all irrespective of gender, age, disability, social status and geographical location.
Periodic and chronic water scarcity represents a major challenge to Africa’s path to development. With only 65 percent [WHO/UNICEF, 2017a] of the population having access to a basic drinking water service, Cameroonians living in conflict areas, the forcedly and internally displaced, disabled, and migrants are left behind without any source of safely managed drinking water service.
A wealth of evidence shows that access to water underpins public health and literacy, especially among women and girls. Healthy and literate women and girls are critical to sustainable development and a stable and prosperous Cameroon.
Tih Ntiabang, Executive Director for ACA said “Cameroon cannot move forward as a peaceful nation, while so many people are living without safe water. Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right. We must focus our efforts towards the disadvantaged who face challenges in meeting their daily water needs.”
According to the 2019 United Nations’ World Water Development Report, the wealthier generally receive high levels of water, sanitation and hygiene services at (often very) low cost, whereas the poor pay a much higher price for a service of similar or lesser quality. Cameroon is no exception.
As a signatory of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, Cameroon has made its mark amongst countries that are determined to ensure water and sanitation for all by 2030. For example, in March 2018, the government renationalized the water management service after over ten years of private ownership and management. Moreover, its 2019 finance act, exempts households whose monthly water consumption is below 20 cubic meters from paying Value Added Tax.
While we laud the steps taken by the government to remake water a public utility, more efforts should be placed on addressing the reasons why continuous access to safe water still seems like a luxury to millions of Cameroonians. “Water must be accessible to all households and available when needed.”
ISSUED BY THE AFRICAN CENTER FOR ADVOCACY
Younoussa Abbosouka (Advocacy Officer):+237656327265
Office: +237 242899472
Facebook: African Center for Advocacy
BP: 35614, Yaounde-Cameroun