Access to water and sanitation are recognized by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basics in every person’s life. Lack of access to safe, sufficient and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity and prosperity of billions of people, and has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights, Non-Aligned Movement has recognised the significance of right to water and sanitation in all spheres of life as an important commitment States have made to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 6 of the SDGs calls for clean water and sanitation for all people. The official wording is: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
Maldives, a NAM Member State, has prioritized the provision of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation to all citizens. In this regard, the Ministry of Environment of Maldives has commenced a series of projects on establishing a water supply facility. Article 23 of the Constitution provides every citizen, inter alia, the right to clean water and adequate sanitation facilities such as the establishment of a sewerage system of a reasonably adequate standard on every inhabited island.
One of the notable initiatives taken by Maldives to ensure clean water and sanitation to all in alignment of Goal 6 of the SDGs is the National Water and Sewerage Policy (NWSP). It reaffirms the commitment of the Maldives to the right to clean and safe water and adequate sanitation for all in both the household and spheres of life beyond the household, with a view to ensure equitability, accessibility and affordability. The key objective of this policy is to enhance the livelihoods of all Maldivians by developing efficient tools for the provision of adequate water and sewerage services and proper management of water resources in the country.
NWSP was launched in August 2017 with a 10-year time framework. NWSP defines nine specific goals: Ensure access to safe water supply and adequate sewerage services; adopting cost-effective, environmentally-sound and appropriate technologies; strengthening of the legal framework; encourage private investments in the water sector; building institutional capacity; maintains financial and environmental sustainability; strengthen advocacy and awareness; promote research and development; protect and conserve water resources. The Policy also encompasses strategies to involve private initiative for the sector and emphasizes development through public awareness, capacity building, research and strengthening of governance and the legal framework.
NWSP calls for establishing national coordination mechanism to ensure sustainability and climate-resiliency shared water infrastructure such as water catchments, storm water and irrigation system. Strategies for economic viability of the system include development of a suitable tariff structure.
As for the policy goal to protect and conserve water resources, the strategy called for establishment of an effective research-based monitoring programme and platform of inhabited islands’ resources, the development and implementation of evidence-based plans water resource management plans taking into consideration the vulnerability and of each of the islands’ water resources, encouragement of water reclamation, and water reuse, water demand management, and minimization of water pollution.
Private investment shall be based on Cooperate Social Responsibility (CSR) models. Climate-resilient concepts shall be used in developing water and sewerage systems. Expected outcomes of the Policy include, among other things, improved governance and community participation, especially in the management and protection of local water resources. A five-year action plan has been developed to implement the Policy. This Action Plan will specify in detail activities and targets based on the Policy. Supervision and monitoring of the implementation and review shall be carried out by the Ministry mandated for the development of the water and sewerage sector.
Finally, a list of instruments that have a direct or indirect relationship to the NWSP was also provided and institutional and organizational responsibilities defined in the final document.