UN Expert Recommends Tuvalu Develop Water Strategy

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Visit reveals daily problems with water sanitation, access

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 19, 2012) – A United Nations Rapporteur has called on Tuvalu to develop a national water plan to address the country's severe lack of safe drinking water and sanitation.

Catarina de Albuquerque visited Tuvalu this week to investigate human rights issues relating to access to water.

During her three-day visit, Ms. de Albuquerque met with representatives from government and civil society groups.

It is the first time an independent expert of the UN Human Rights Council has visited a South Pacific country.

Tuvalu is currently developing a draft Water Act as well as a sustainable and integrated water and sanitation policy.

But Ms. Albuquerque says the people she met in Tuvalu told her they face severe obstacles in accessing clean water and sanitation on a daily basis.

She told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the government of Tuvalu must come up with a national strategy to address these critical problems.

"Obviously Tuvalu is in a very desperate situation, difficult situation economically and also in terms of the effects of climate change. But from a legal point of view, from a human rights point of view, the primary responsibility is of the government," she said.

"One first step that I advise the government to take is to have a vision for the sector. And based on this vision they can ask for support for particular issues"

Ms. Albuquerque will travel to Kiribati on a similar fact-finding mission on July 23.

She will present a report on her missions to the UN Human Rights Council in September.

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