United Nations Environmental Program
Access to Water
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Forest Hills Eastern High School
On July 28th, 2010, the United Nations established access to clean water to be a human right; however, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11% of the human population is currently suffering from lack of clean water. Extreme conditions such as the water crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa and the drought in India are in urgent need of assistance. The United Nations has a duty to ensure that all people have sustainable access to clean water.
The Bahamas sympathizes with those who lack access to water: as a country of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, freshwater is difficult to obtain. There are no legitimate freshwater lakes or streams on the islands, so The Bahamas’ main sources of freshwater come from underground aquifers and desalinated freshwater. The Bahamas’ essential aquifers are in danger of saline contamination due to the rising sea levels and natural disasters such as hurricanes that infect fresh groundwater with ocean water. Microbiological contamination is also a concern: a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2003 found 65% of Bahamian groundwater resources to show microbiological contamination. FAO’s global information system on water resources, AQUASTAT, found that The Bahamas’ aquifers are depleting quickly, especially in New Providence, where the highest water demand is; this forces the Bahamas to implement more desalination methods, which is costly for the Bahamian government. The Bahamas is very aware of the situation and is taking care to address the issue. First, to combat the intensifying threats to freshwater supplies, The Bahamas passed The Water and Sewerage Corporation Act in 1976, placing all water usage under government control. Since then, The Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) has been working to ensure proper use and distribution of water; moreover, the WSC began forming an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in 2002. The IWRM will employ more organizations to help monitor water usage, encourage more government involvement, and increase the WSC’s regulation of water resources. Also, in 2010, The Bahamas passed the Bahamas Forestry Act, which legally protects many water sources from harm. The Bahamas is pleased with the actions of the United Nations in regards to the water crisis; agreements such as Chapter 1, paragraph 12 of the Addis Ababa action agenda of 2015 encourage countries to set budgets for important public safety expenditures such as sanitation and water access.
The Bahamas believes government-monitored water usage is necessary in order to successfully combat water crises in struggling countries, and recommends that the United Nations encourage all countries that are facing a water crisis to place water under government control. In the case of struggling countries with unstable governments, The Bahamas encourages the United Nations to enlist the help of NGOs such as Miya: a company that helps to create efficient water systems, and has helped The Bahamas before; or Water.org, a non-profit organization that constructs wells in countries and educates citizens about proper water usage and sanitation. The Bahamas hopes to form a resolution that determines the best water source for countries and encourages the handling of water consumption by the country’s government or by NGOs.
- Allayna Hight