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European Citizens’ Initiative Calls for the Right to Water

The beginning of April 2012 was marked by a promising move towards a better coverage of water and sanitation services in Europe

04.04.2012 |Rasa Jaruseviciute

The beginning of April 2012 was marked by a promising move towards a better coverage of water and sanitation services in Europe as the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) on water as a Human Right has been submitted to the European Commission on the 2nd of April.

WECF is a part of the ECI from civil society and, together with other environmental organizations such as Anti Poverty Network, European Public Health Alliance and European Environmental Bureau, has already made a commitment to support the campaign. The representatives of these organizations will gather in Brussels to discuss the further strategy and implementation of the ECI on the 5th of April, 2012.

As soon as the European Commission gives the official approval on the ECI, a number of anti-poverty and environmental campaigners in all EU-27 countries, including WECF, will start collecting signatures and campaigning for the European Commission to take action on the issue of water and sanitation.

According to the European Environmental Agency, over 50 % of rural population in ten EU countries lacks access to safe drinking water. Poor sanitation conditions and well water use for drinking, washing and cooking purposes are still prevalent in these regions. Illnesses such as dysentery, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, and typhoid are the most common health problems there resulting from the contact with water contaminated with faecal matter. Because of the economic and financial situation, many low income households in remote areas are at risk to be cut off from safe drinking water. The ECI therefore aims at opposing liberalization of water services and emphasizes that water is a Human Right not merchandise.

The initiative “Water is a human right not a commodity” was launched by the European Federation for Public Service Unions (EPSU) on the World Water Day two weeks ago. Far reaching, this campaign is a tool to commit the European Union and Member States to implement the human right to water and sanitation. As over two million citizens in the EU still lack access to water, setting clear targets at the pan-European level is essential to guarantee that safe water and proper sanitation services are equally available for all people in Europe.

For further information on the ECI, please visit

WECF implements decentralised, safe sustainable and affordable sanitation systems for rural areas and promotes in particular access to safe water and sanitation for schools. WECF raises awareness and mobilises citizens for sustainable water and wastewater management and promotes community based and affordable water supply systems for rural areas without a centralised drinking water supply.

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