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WIN! Big step for the Right to Water in Mexico!

Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena writes:

Mexico’s chamber of deputies

Last Thursday (April 28), the water movement in Mexico had an important victory. The federal chamber of deputies approved an initiative to recognize the right to water and to a healthy environment in the Mexican Constitution!

For several years, particularly since 2006, many Mexican organizations and citizens have demanded the recognition of the human right to water in our Constitution. The Coalition of Mexican Organizations for the Right to Water (COMDA) among other organizations started a campaign with this purpose in the first worldwide celebration of Blue October in 2006. At this time there were several initiatives in Congress to recognize this right, but there were no clear signs that things could move forward.

Citizens around the country are concerned about water: having access to safe and affordable water is a matter of life and life quality. The official figure, used by the government, of the percentage of people with access to water – “91.5% of the population has access to piped water” – hides inequalities. Not only do 8.5% lack access to piped water, within this 91.5% figure, but the government counts people that have access to piped water through public taps or neighbors and need to carry it back home. The fact is that a bit less than 70% of the population has in-house tap water. Moreover, of the houses that have piped water only 73% have water continuously, 15% have water every other day and the rest have it, maybe, once a week or once every two weeks . These numbers are only about physical access, yet we also need to talk about quality and affordability which are also key elements. To the question: ‘Would you drink a glass of tap water in Mexico?’ Most would answer no, and there is reason in this answer.

The approved initiative still needs to go through the Senate; and then more than half of the state legislatures need to pass it to become part of our Constitution. This process could take months, maybe years. However, the fact that it passed through the chamber of deputies is a huge step. The debate to pass it through considered international law specifically the General Comment 15 and last year’s General Assembly Resolution.

The wording that should be included in the forth article of the Constitution states every person has the right to a healthy environment, such a right will be guaranteed by the State, and harm to the environment will mean responsibility to those who provoke it. Every person has the right to access, use and sanitation of water for personal and domestic use in sufficient quantity, quality, acceptability and affordability. The State will guarantee this right and determine the base for equity and sustainability with the participation of all government levels and citizen participation.

This is a simple proposal, but it includes the key elements of sufficient quantity, quality and affordability. We will be working hard to push through this initiative to have the human right to water and to a healthy environment recognized in the Mexican Constitution!

[1] Alatorre, Adriana “Carece de agua 30% de viviendas” Reforma, March 20, 2011.

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