Sanitation is a right, and a right cannot wait

Sanitation is a human right and an essential public service for the health and well-being of people (Framework Law on the Management and Provision of Sanitation Services). Therefore, it is logical that this service be fully or partially subsidized to make it accessible to the entire population.

However, in Peru, a large part of the population does not have the privilege of this service or receive such a subsidy, nor are they offered any public alternative to guarantee their right to sanitation:

  • 7.6 million people do not have sanitation.
  • 3.4 million people do not have water.

What solution is offered to cover this human right and essential public service?

The solution is to be connected to the public water and sewer network, but this will not happen in the short or medium term because:

  • The investment required to close the water and sanitation provision gap by 2030 is 100 billion soles.
  • An infrastructure and sanitation project takes an average of 10.4 years to complete.
  • Additionally, the current service has quality problems (limited service hours, unexpected outages, unsafe water provision, etc.) and does not adapt to environmental conditions.

So, what other alternative can be adopted to address this urgency?

In this situation, it is crucial to seek alternative service provision schemes to ensure safe water and sanitation.

For example, for water provision in peri-urban areas, unconventional solutions such as tanks and water trucks have been adapted (with improvements still needed for this system). However, in these same areas, alternative solutions for sanitation service have not been implemented.

In this case, new technologies such as Container-Based Sanitation (CBS) could also be considered. CBS has been recognized by WHO and UNICEF as a safe alternative for governments to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: “Clean Water and Sanitation.” Additionally, it does not use critical resources like water, is quick to implement, and cost-effective.

CBS emerged almost 15 years ago in various parts of the world as an off-grid sanitation alternative, particularly relevant for peri-urban areas with complex geography, scarce water resources, prone to natural disasters, and high population density.

Why has the CBS technology not been considered to ensure the right to sanitation until now? Millions of people need solutions today while waiting for their homes to be connected to the sewer network.

The National Water and Sanitation Policy considers water coverage with unconventional technologies; will they also consider new technologies to close the sanitation provision gap?