National Ombudsman: the right to drinking water is fundamental for all residents of the Netherlands

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Woman uses tap water in kitchen

The National Ombudsman is investigating the failing water supply on Sint Eustatius. He says it is completely unacceptable that residents are denied access to clean drinking water. Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen and State Secretary Knops have answered the Ombudsman’s questions in the context of this investigation. The answers show that the problems are being addressed. Still, the National Ombudsman wants to know how the island ended up in this situation. Talks have been scheduled with the Minister, State Secretary and Government Commissioner to discuss the matter further.

The answer given by the Minister and State Secretary shows that specific action is being taken to resolve this issue in the short and long term. The National Ombudsman will keep a close watch on the progress and will continue to ask residents of Sint Eustatius for information. The parties responsible have been aware of the problem for several years and the National Ombudsman wants to know why it has taken until now to take action. He plans to get further answers to his questions from Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen, State Secretary Knops and Government Commissioner Van Rij.

Fundamental right to drinking water

Access to drinking water is a fundamental right. This is explicitly formulated in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Access to a clean water supply is also one of the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). As a member of the United Nations, the Netherlands has made a commitment to work towards these objectives intended to ensure that the world is a better place by 2030. SDG 6 states that everyone should have access to clean drinking water and proper and clean sanitary facilities. The objective of SDG 10 is to remove inequalities within and between countries. In this time of inclusivity, it is important that the Caribbean part of the Kingdom is visibly included and that the measures and care that apply to the rest of the country also apply here.

The National Ombudsman hopes that the Minister and State Secretary will explicitly name the islands in the Caribbean Netherlands in their plans for the improvement of the water provision and sanitary facilities in the Netherlands.