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Federal Ministers Guido Westerwelle and Dirk Niebel on World Water Day

20.03.2010 - Press release

Monday, 22 March, is World Water Day. Both Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Federal Development Minister Dirk Niebel will meet on Monday with Ms Catarina de Albuquerque, UN Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The two Ministers issued a statement on the topic today (20 March):

Nearly 900 million people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water while 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. This causes the death of a child every 20 seconds. Each year diarrhoeal diseases result in the loss of over 400 million school days. Children and adolescents therefore lose the opportunity to be educated and to escape poverty.

That is why the German Government is working on the international level to achieve the recognition of a human right to clean drinking water and basic sanitation. We support the work of the UN Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. She gives a voice to this human right and is urging the international community to recognize and implement it. We are also doing our part to help solve the problem. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, commitments by the German Government will provide access to drinking water and sanitation for around 30 million people by 2015.

Additionally, we are supporting the “WASH United” initiative which is aimed at providing information on the existence and content of the human right to water and sanitation as well as on basic hygiene in eight African countries during the FIFA World Cup.”

The Independent Expert’s mandate is the result of a German-Spanish initiative. Portuguese national Catarina de Albuquerque was appointed by the Human Rights Council in 2008 for three years. It is her task to contribute to the clarification and further development of the legal obligations related to this issue and to identify good practices. Moreover, she is to submit proposals that can contribute to the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals in the water sector. During her visit to Germany, Ms de Albuquerque will meet with Federal Ministers Guido Westerwelle and Dirk Niebel. In addition, she will have talks with Günter Nooke, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, as well as members of the German Bundestag and civil society representatives.

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