The president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, on Thursday asked the participating countries of the World Meeting of Ministers of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, "ambitious goals" in the sector to promote human development.
"I ask you to be ambitious, to establish goals that prolong well-being for all," Alvarado said in a speech during the inauguration of the forum that brings together some 60 ministers of Water, Health and Environment of various countries of the world.
The Costa Rican president encouraged the ministers not to renounce their efforts to improve access to water and sanitation for the population and to pursue these "ambitious goals" despite resistance in some sectors or financial difficulties.
"There is a fundamental link between sanitation, access to water, hygiene and human development, and we must make a critical call to this," he said.
The president acknowledged that access to water has become so basic for many countries that its population forgets the importance of the liquid, before what it considered necessary "a paradigm shift" towards "co-responsibility".
In this regard, he pointed out that this change means becoming aware of the importance of properly treating water after using it.
"In Costa Rica more than 93 percent of the population has access to drinking water in their homes, but we do not concentrate on what happens after using it," the president said.
Alvarado acknowledged that in terms of sanitation his country only treats 15 percent of its wastewater, before which he explained there are a series of projects that will raise the percentage to 43 percent by 2023.
The World Meeting of Ministers of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, which will conclude on Friday, is organized by Water and Sanitation for All (SWA) by its acronym in English, and aims to exchange experiences and find solutions to meet the Development Goal Sustainable (ODS) number 6.
That SDG stipulates to achieve by 2030 universal and equitable access to safe drinking water at an affordable price for all, access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene services, and an end to open defecation.
It also establishes, among other things, the support and strengthening of the participation of local communities in the improvement of water management and sanitation, among other issues.
SWA data indicate that in the world 2,100 million people live without drinking water in their homes; One out of every four elementary schools lacks drinking water services, and every day more than 700 children under the age of five die from diarrheal diseases related to the consumption of contaminated water and poor sanitation.
The figures indicate that four out of five people who do not have access to drinking water live in rural areas and that 159 million people are forced to drink surface water, obtained from sources such as ponds and streams.