One of the biggest challenges facing water security, especially in developing nations, is accessibility. A country can have a surplus of quality water, but if they are unable to access it, this presents a major problem. Paraguay, a nation which has faced multiple water security challenges, is tackling water accessibility in an unprecedented way. Their approach was simple: better water law, improved governance institutions, and emphasis on sustainability. Sound familiar? It’s a strategy that The Center for Water Security and Cooperation (CWSC) is advancing as critical for achieving water security, and Paraguay is an example of just how well it is working.
Water accessibility in Paraguay has been an issue for the nation for some time now, particularly rural areas of the country. In spite of Latin America’s immense freshwater reserves, only 51.6% of the rural population of Paraguay had access to quality water in 2000. Today, that number has nearly doubled to 94%. It is certainly an accomplishment on behalf of Paraguay and an example that we can transform water insecure areas to water secure in a relatively short amount of time.
One of the most important advancements in Paraguay has been its water law. In 2007 Paraguay declared in Law 3239, Law on Water Resources, that “inhabitants have access to drinking water, given that this is a human right… and every natural person has a right to access to a minimum quantity of drinking water per day that is sufficient for the satisfaction of their basic needs.” Considering it was not until three years later that the United Nations established that water was a basic human right, this was an incredible development.
Governance and Institutions, one of the 10 nexuses addressed in The CWSC’s report, The Water Security Challenge: Building a Framework, is a crucial element for successful water security frameworks. Paraguay has demonstrated that institutional arrangements have an impact on water accessibility. SENASA (Servicio Nacional de Sanamiento Ambiental) or the National Service of Environmental Sanitation of Paraguay was moved to the Department of Health to emphasize that water is a critical part of public health. Furthermore, nearly 2,500 water boards or Juntas de Saneamiento have been established in rural areas. These water and sanitation boards rely on community volunteers whose responsibility is to ensure water accessibility for small communities through setting water tariffs and improving piped water infrastructure.
While many nations have been solely focused on development, Paraguay has been committed to sustainable development. Paraguay’s water security framework focuses on infrastructure and arrangements that not only improve water security in the short term, but more importantly, the long term. Systems that are resilient and consider the challenges of water security in urban and rural areas are being implemented, and the results are astonishing. Today, Paraguay is the most improved country in ensuring sustainable access to water in rural areas, and an example of the significant impact better water laws, institutions, and sustainability can have on water security.
Law on Water Resources, Law 3239 of 10 July 2007, available at http://www.waterlex.org/waterlex-legal-database/index.php?r=legalDocument/customView&id=149.
Slawson, N. (2017, May 26). Rural water access: why should countries follow Paraguay’s lead? Retrieved from The Guardian : https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/may/26/rural-water-access-paraguay-success-lessons.
The Center for Water Security and Cooperation. (2017). The Water Security Challenge: Building a Framework, available at www.ourwatersecurity.org/watersecuritychallenge.
The World Bank. (2012, December 27). The World Bank. Retrieved from Small rural communities self manage their access to water in Paraguay, available at http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/12/27/comunidades-rurales-gestionan-acceso-agua-paraguay.
WaterAid. (2017). Wild Water, The State of the World's Water 2017. http://www.wateraid.org/news/blogs/2017/march/wild-water-why-we-need-to-build-resilience-in-the-face-of-climate-change.