Latin America: lack of investment in water, but a lot of ideas

Investments must be accelerated to ensure potable water with equitable distribution to the population. However, innovative projects abound.

Latin America has problems in the distribution of drinking water and sanitation. To meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in this area, it must accelerate its investments, said the representative in Costa Rica of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) Fidel Jaramillo.

Jaramillo gave the warning on the first day of the V Latin American Conference on Water and Sanitation (LATINOSAN 2019), which takes place in Costa Rica. The conference has gathered 1,300 people, including government officials, academics and experts.

Conference Inauguration.

Increase investments, necessary to have drinking water for all

LatAm needs to invest 14K million dollars annually in water and sanitation to comply with SDG number 6, said Jaramillo. However, “the region does not reach half” of that sum. If that pace is maintained, the goal will not be met until 2100.

Latinoamerica needs to invest 14K million dollars annually in water and sanitation.

Fidel Jaramillo, Costa Rica IADB Representative

Goal number 6 of sustainable development seeks universal and equitable access to safe drinking water at an affordable price for all and access to adequate and fair sanitation and hygiene services.

It also establishes the support and strengthening of local communities participation in the improvement of water management and sanitation, among other issues.

Léo Heller, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to drinking water and sanitation, mentioned:

“The situation is worrisome and should be accelerated (the solutions). The goals not only depend on the investment; you should also think about strengthening the management of the service “.

The rapporteur said that there are different sources of financing available for countries to develop infrastructure, as well as the possibility in some nations to raise rates, but looking for ways as subsidies so as not to affect the poorest people.

Technological innovations to achieve ODS # 6

Despite the discouraging panorama, the ideas to solve the problem of water distribution and quality do not lack in the region. Here some initiatives:

Lacones Project: is a project in Peru that, with solar energy and materials available in the area, builds potable water and sanitation systems.

Mesita Azul: is a water disinfection system with ultraviolet light, developed in Mexico.

Ekofil: is a portable water filter, easy to install and does not require electricity for its operation, made in Colombia.

BioThoth: is a mixture of bacteria that digests the fats present in wastewater and decreases their accumulation. A Brazilian woman in Panama developed it.

In addition to projects and technological innovations developed in the region, there are alternatives created in other countries, such as desalination. This technique is widely used in Israel, where 50% of the drinking water is desalinated.

Investments in water: ethics issue

The director of the Department of Public Health and the Environment at the World Health Organization (WHO), María Neira, highlighted the benefits of water and sanitation in health, but also the benefits for governments.

“For every dollar that is invested in water and sanitation, the return is $ 4.3. The health benefits are so vast that it is almost unethical not to start”.

María Neira, WHO Director

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