Gloria Orellana - Diario Co Latino

Tatiana Oliva, from the National Alliance Against Water Privatization, considered the approval of the General Water Law to be of key importance. Especially in the context of the Health Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is plaguing the world and the country, water must be considered as a human right and the approval of a General Water Law must be ensured. 

In relation to the General Water Law presented by the organizations, the Legislative Commission on the Environment and Climate Change must be receptive to it. It should not be considered valid that the governing body in water management is in private´s hands. Truthfully, this sector only defends its interests. However, the threats to water management are still in force,” Oliva affirmed.

The National Alliance Against the Privatization of Water considered the approval of the General Water Law to be of paramount importance, in view of the serious affectations experienced by citizens due to the lack of this vital resource.

The National Alliance Against Water Privatization, two years after starting its fight for the recognition of the “human right to water” which integrates the General Water Law and that is against the privatization of this resources, reiterates the various demands and proposals from the communities to guarantee the life and health of the population.
For Oliva, it is valid to reflect in the current context, in order to ratify the goal of this alliance of organizations and communities for a Water and Sanitation Law, as a resource of the State and to safeguard this common good.
"The deputy Martha Batres -president of the Environment Commission- proposed a roadmap. With this guideline, in a period of 33 weeks, the Water Law could be discussed and, by August of this year, people would have a water law. This new discussion allowed the participation of the organizations but limited their opportunity to express their opinions only in writing, not in person or orally. Then, the Environment Commission transferred this discussion to a technical commission; that is to say, they limited the social control of the organizations”, Olivia pointed out.
Regarding the legislation on water, Luis González, a member of the National Alliance Against Water Privatization, also pointed out that in the committee on Legislation and Constitutional Matters there are four draft constitutional reforms to recognize the human right to water. Yet, no results have been obtained.
"This situation is worrisome. In fact, in 2010 El Salvador and the United Nations (UN) recognized that safeguarding water as a human right is essential in order to recognize the magnitude of the crisis affecting the population. Yet, this has not been done. In addition, we note the lack of a policy or plan aimed at guaranteeing this human right to the population. This right is non-existent, despite the fact that, since June 12, 2019, the President of the Republic Nayib Bukele has expressed the importance of presenting this water law for the benefit of the population, ”González added.
Regarding the historical crisis on access to drinking water that the population faces, González recalled the management of the water crisis last January when the National Administration of Aqueducts and Sewers (ANDA) authorities allowed the supply of water with characteristics not suitable for human consumption. When facing an appeal process before the Legislative Assembly, Frederick Benítez, president of ANDA, affirmed that water consumption was not recommended for the population. The process concluded with the recommendation to dismiss the president who, to date, still continues to head the entity.

The water crisis continues to affect the population, in the absence of a policy or plan aimed at guaranteeing this human right to the population, and despite the fact that the Government has reiterated its interest in working on water management regulations.

Photo Diario Co Latino / Archive

We do not have a General Water Law, we do not have the recognition of the human right to water, and we do not have public policies to effectively guarantee and safeguard this natural resource for the people who need it. A complete re-engineering plan is urgent in order to respond immediately to the needs of the population,” González concluded.

Omar Flores, also from the National Alliance Against Water Privatization, reflected on the importance and urgency of the Salvadoran State to comply with international commitments or agreements signed such as the "Escazú Agreement", which contains the recognition of the human right to water and environmental defenders.
“The Escazú Agreement has to do with the right of access to (public) information, citizen participation and access to justice in environmental matters and the creation of mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders of water or environmental resources. And concretely, the National Alliance against the Privatization of Water, has also had to face attacks and accusations and discredit from the economic leadership, and rejection from the Legislative Assembly when it wanted to exercise social control in these spaces," Flores added.

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Translation: Giada Ferrucci