Latin America, a region with serious problems in drinking water and sanitation, must accelerate its investments to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDO) in this area, because at the current rate it will not achieve it until 2100.
This was one of the warnings issued on Monday during the first day of the V Latin American Water and Sanitation Conference (LATINOSAN 2019) that takes place in Costa Rica with the participation of some 1,300 people among government officials, academics and experts.
The representative in Costa Rica of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Fidel Jaramillo, said during the forum that the region needs to invest $ 14,000 million annually in water and sanitation to comply with SDG number 6.
However, "the region does not reach half" of that figure, lamented Jaramillo, who warned that, if this pace is maintained, the region will meet the goal by 2100.
The SDG on water stipulates by 2030 to achieve universal and equitable access to safe drinking water at an affordable price for all, access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene services and to put an end to open defecation.
It also establishes the support and strengthening of the participation of local communities in the improvement of water management and sanitation, among other issues.
The UN special rapporteur on human rights to drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, affirmed that the SDGs have created challenges that the region must face from various angles that involve investment and human rights.
"The situation is worrying and should be accelerated (the solutions)." The goals do not only depend on the investment, but also on strengthening the management of the service, "said Heller.
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.
For Heller, part of the region lacks the State's presence on water and there is little awareness of the importance that this sector has on the health of the population.
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. The benefits in health are so enormous that it is almost unethical not to start up these investments," said Neira.
With data from 18 countries, it was determined that 7.73% of Latin Americans in rural areas consume unprotected well water or surface water.
In rural areas, drinking water coverage managed safely is 58.4% and in urban areas 76.3%, while at basic levels (it refers to waiting times not exceeding 30 minutes to obtain water). of 27.7% and 19.5%, respectively.
The rest of the population of the region has limited access to liquid.
In terms of sanitation, the data show that at least 63.8 million Latin Americans do not have access to a proper bathroom (sanitary service), of which 19 million defecate in the open air.
In rural areas of Latin America, the coverage of safe sanitation of sewage (sewerage and treatment plants) reaches only 26.3%, and in urban areas 49.2%.
During LATINOSAN 2019 the Latin American Observatory of Water and Sanitation will be launched, a project that has the financial support of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
At the Conference, a declaration will also be issued in which commitments will be established to advance towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The event includes international specialists, service operators, officials, the private sector and academia. In total, 6 lectures and 21 technical presentations will be held.
The inauguration was in charge of the president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, who urged to advance towards the reduction of gaps in the matter.