The fights against poverty as well as developmental initiatives in Latin America are facing great challenges owing to the problems in accessing good quality drinking water, insufficient sanitation and supply shortages. A Brazil based newly established regional center would be monitoring water quality for improvement of management procedures.
Sao Paulo, the southern Brazilian megalopolis, is Latin America’s biggest city and the world’s fourth biggest. The city, hit by a prolonged drought has been experiencing tremendous water crisis, and is left without the normal water supplies. Experts find a connection of this phenomenon with climate change.
To address such problems, the ANA (Brazil’s national water agency) has signed an MOU with UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), becoming the monitoring hub for water quality in the Caribbean and Latin America.
For strengthening oversight and monitoring, ANA would also be promoting cooperation at a regional level.
Marcelo Pires, water resources expert in ANA’s strategic management stated that Brazil would be a hub for the area and would be the coordinator for all the training programs conducted in collaboration with other countries. He further said that for decision makers, the data analysis, sample collection methods and monitoring are quite useful. A crucial role would also be played by the regional hub for setting up national centers in each of the countries.
According to Pires, precise evaluation of the given scenario has not yet been carried out. However, it is known that advanced monitoring centers are present in Colombia, Chile and Argentina.
ANA and UNEP will also tie up for disseminating information on water resource quality, in line with the parameters laid down by GEMS (U.N. Global Environment Monitoring System) Water Program. This program has been successful in creating a worldwide network of over 4,000 research stations, wherein data is collected from around 100 countries.
From 2010 onwards, Brazil’s water agency is responsible for the implementation of a national water quality program in the 26 states and federal district of the country, with inspiration obtained from GEMS.
Pires feels that access to proper sanitation and clean water are primary requisites for the country’s development.
According to Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, international cooperation and water resource management are fundamental steps for sustainable utilization of water in the countries of the developing South. During the announcement of the agreement with ANA, Steiner made it clear that sanitation and water infrastructure are basic requisites for economic development and climate change has made the challenge much more complicated.
The MOU between the two establishments was publicized this month, though the signing took place during Steiner’s visit to Brazil in July. Initially this agreement would be effective till late 2018, and extension could take place after that.
A study conducted by ANA revealed that more than 3,000 cities and towns in Brazil would face the imminent danger of water shortages next year. The number amounts to 55% of the municipalities of the country.
Water shortage and uneven distribution of water have become an integral part of life for the citizens of Latin America. Moreover the quality of both sanitation and water is dubious.