Prepaid Meters Scupper Gains Made in Accessing Water in Africa
Monday, May 11, 2015
While many countries appear to have met the U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water, rights activists say that African countries which have taken to installing prepaid water meters have rendered a blow to many poor people, making it hard for them to access water.
“The goal to ensure that everyone has access to clean water here in Africa faces a drawback as a number of African countries have resorted to using prepaid water meters, which certainly bar the poor from accessing the precious liquid,” Claris Madhuku, director of the Platform for Youth Development, a Zimbabwean democracy lobby group, told IPS.
Prepaid water meters work in such a way that if a person cannot pay in advance, he or she will be unable to access water.
As a result, African rights activists like award-winning Terry Mutsvanga from Zimbabwe and other civil society organisations are against the idea of prepaid water meters.
“If one has to pay upfront before accessing water, then it would mean those in most need would be denied access,” Mutsvanga told IPS, adding that water is a global human right.
Mutsvanga was echoing the United Nations General Assembly which, in July 2010, emerged with a binding resolution on the human right to water and sanitation – but for Africa, the human right to water may be far from reality.