World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.
Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. On global level data show that:
- 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services, although it is a UN human right. This negatively affects people’s health, education and livelihoods.• By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people and global water demand could be up to 30% higher than today.
In the European Region, access to safe water cannot be taken for granted. WHO estimates that every day 14 people die of diarrhoeal disease due to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the pan-European Region. About 75% of people without access to basic drinking-water services live in rural areas. Clean and safe drinking water at home is often unavailable. In the European Region, 57 million people do not have piped water at home, and 21 million people still lack access to basic drinking-water services (WHO 2018). These people use water from unprotected wells and springs or directly consume surface water.
In the Balkan Region, we are a witness of continuously damaging of water sources. Just as a reminder, international banks have invested millions of euros in the destructive development of hydropower in the whole region. More than 3,000 hydropower projects are planned in the Balkans – almost every river in the region will be affected.
More than 3,000 dams and diversions in hydropower are proposed or are in the process of building in the Balkans, in addition to already 1,000 existing ones. These dams will cause irreversible damages to rivers, wildlife and local communities. According to the data, there are 1,003 existing dams, 188 dams are under construction and 2,798 planned for construction. Despite that, 80% of the Balkan rivers are still healthy, as opposed to the rivers in Central Europe. Actually, an assessment of the hydro morphology of 35,000 km of Balkan rivers showed that 30 % of them are clean, and 50 % are very healthy, which is the highest percentage in Europe.
These dams and diversion of rivers will destroy the Albanian river Vjosa – the largest and last undisturbed river in Europe, and there is already a threat of extinction of the Danube salmon in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the survival of Balkan lynx in Macedonia is endangered and freshwater resources are destroyed throughout the region.
We, members of the Balkan WASH Network, dedicated to the achievement of the human rights and the Sustainable Development Goal 6 ask the state’s authorities how the countries will achieve SDG target 6 if they don’t ensure supply of safe water.
We, members of the Balkan WASH Network Balkan WaSH Network ask for Nature-Based Solution for managing water supply and quality support the achievement of all targets in Goal 6: to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
We want to underline that Nature-Based Solution can also play a role in a range of other Sustainable Development Goals such as SDG7 on energy, SDG… those wetlands can reduce pollution by filtration and increase biodiversity by expanding natural habitats.
Balkan WaSH Network is a regional network of civil society organizations implementing projects in Balkan countries and advocating for universal, affordable and sustainable access to WASH as a key public health issue within international development and in the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 6. Access to WaSH includes safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene education, and addressing these issues can reduce illness and death, and also reduce poverty and improve socio-economic development.
Natasha Dokovska (email@example.com )
Fiorela Plani (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monica Isacu (monica@@balkanwashnetwork.org)
Bistra Mihaylova, WECF (bistra@@balkanwashnetwork.org)