Penca and Sabila Corporation in the city of Medelin and Endacol Association in the city of Bogota put in place a joint activity.
Acknowledged but not yet a guarantee
Even if UN recognized the right to access water as the fundamental right in 2010, it is far from being guaranteed in Colombia even though it cosigned the resolution.
In fact, currently around 50% of the Colombian population has difficulty to access water.
According to the law 142 that passed in 1994, city halls must provide their citizens with drinkable water and prices applied are to be adjustable according to consumers’ social class; well off citizens are to subsidize the low-income families. At the same time, the law encourages competition and the privatization of the network; since 1995 private or public companies run a part of the network that provides water in urban areas.
In urban areas these modifications led to a significant increase in prices (between 1990 and 2001 the average price of water and its purification passed from 0,32 $/m3 to 0,81 $/m3 which represents the increase by 152 %) and a strong popular discontent.
9 million people (among whom 1 million children under the age of 0-4 years old) do not have access to water
Currently only 52% of local councils are able to provide access to water continually. 222 local councils in the rural zone do not provide the supply in water and 593 do not provide the supply in drains. In 43% of cases used water treatment is poor and such water is mixed with the sources of the pure one. 9 million people among whom there are 1 million children between 0 and 4 years old do not have access to water resources.
A lack of water purification and poor access to water resources lead to the spreading of water and malnutrition related diseases. The population is easily affected by dengue, malaria, or diarrhea, and prenatal mortality grows.
In rural and disadvantaged areas of the country the water network is run by community associations called aqueducts. Since 1920 the inhabitants of these zones have put in place aqueduct community associations while building necessary infrastructure to insure their water coverage. They also insure this infrastructure management.
For disadvantaged populations these associations are an alternative to governmental and private companies that distribute water. They work without subsidies from local councils nor from the government but thanks to groups of volunteer managers that coordinate construction and maintaining, they clear tiny revenues from members’ subscription fees (these revenues are made up mostly of membership fees and various taxes).
This type of alternative management generates two main difficulties. On the one hand, the income cleared is insufficient to maintain infrastructure and to run it correctly, and on the other hand associations are under threat of private sector dominance, encouraged by national politics of commercialization of water services. The privatization of the system leads to an important increase of prices and to the impoverishment of the population that is already poor.
Denounce the situation and influence politics
The actions taken aim at reinforcing the ability to manage, to mobilize and to impact civil society in order to influence public politics. Campaigns are put in place in favor of the “defense of the water as the fundamental human right”.
The politics of the privatization of drinkable water service and its basic purification are being evaluated to follow legal conflicts and violation of rights. Partners also counsel families and community organizations of Medellin legally when they take legal actions in order to fulfil their fundamental right to access drinkable water.