Egypt making progress in water, sanitation – UN rights expert

29 June 2009
A girl washes her hands at a row of taps in Egypt

Egypt has made great strides in improving access to drinking water and is well-situated to address remaining challenges related to water and sanitation, a United Nations independent human rights expert said today.

“The level of political and financial commitment to tackle these complicated issues is to be commended,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as she wrapped up an eight-day visit to Egypt today.

As a result of the Government’s “good experience” in these areas in recent years, she said, authorities are better prepared to address obstacles, including extending access to sanitation, ensuring that the poorest can afford their drinking water, improving the quality of drinking water in more isolated and poorer areas and narrowing the gap between rural and urban as well as between formal and informal dwellings.

Among other successful initiatives, the Government, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners have set up a revolving fund to help the poor access clean water and sanitation through loans that can be paid back in instalments, Ms. de Albuquerque said.

“I saw that this practice has a decisive impact on the daily lives of the people concerned, especially for women and children,” she added.

Such achievements in Egypt must be recognized, the expert stressed. “That it considers access to drinking water and sanitation a right for all its people is already to Egypt’s credit.”

Ms. de Albuquerque was appointed as a UN Independent Expert in September 2008, and reports to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council in an unpaid capacity.


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