Latin America owns a third of the world's fresh water and its economy depends on water resources, but it is a region with great deficiencies in management that are reflected in the fact that 34 million people do not have access to drinking water and sanitation coverage is below of 15%.
"The economy of the region flows in water, Latin America is a privileged region with one third of the world's freshwater resource, but if something is leaving climate change lesson learned, it is the importance of managing better," he said in an interview. with Efe the head of the Water Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Sergio Campos.
The expert exemplified the importance of water for the Latin American economy with the fact that most of the exports are from sectors that depend on the liquid for its operation.
In addition, 70% of electricity is generated with water resources, to which are added the benefits that water provides for health, quality of life and social development.
"Water is a critical issue for the economy and well-being of the Latin American population," Campos said in the framework of World Water Day, which takes place every March 22.
- The five critical areas for water management in Latin America
The expert established five critical areas for the region in terms of water: access, project financing, governance, water security to protect sources, and the operation, maintenance, innovation and modernization of the companies that provide the service.
The data cited by Campos indicates that in Latin America, 34 million people do not have access to drinking water, a figure that rises to 200 million if the people who do not enjoy continuous access to the liquid are counted.
In addition, in the region there are at least 106 million people without access to wastewater sanitation and 13 million defecate in the open air.
- The necessary investments in water are not cheap
The IDB expert warned that if Latin America wants to comply with the objectives of sustainable development in the area of water, it must make investments "that are not cheap" and that suppose a "very high initial cost", but affirmed that resources are available in different portfolios, like the green backgrounds.
Campos believes that countries should be aware that investments in this field produce great benefits in areas such as health, education, combating poverty and reducing inequalities.
Investments must also be focused on state-of-the-art and innovative technologies that make it possible to modernize water resource management systems, a task in which private companies must play a primary role, explained Campos.
- Governance and water security
Another area that the region must reinforce is governance, since many state companies that provide water services are "very volatile and susceptible to changes in local and national governments," and there are deficiencies in the formation of human capital, Campos said.
However, the IDB expert clarified that there are numerous examples of successful state companies in the region that provide efficient and quality services for users.
Regarding water security, Campos pointed out that this is one of the great challenges of Latin America, since it covers everything from protecting water sources to reusing the resource to promote a "circular" economy.
"The water richness of the region is affected because many of the rivers and lakes have important capacities to receive untreated water, the level of wastewater treatment is less than 15 percent, which means that we are discharging rivers and that compromises water security, "said the IDB expert.
- Climate change and its impact
Climate change is another major factor that the region must seriously consider for water management, as it is causing droughts or shortages in regions of Central America, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and the Caribbean, as well as severe floods.
"We have the privilege of having enough water, but the resources have to be protected, we will have more frequent and intense droughts and floods and that affects the quality of the aquifers, in this context the water administration will be fundamental", he concluded.