MADISON, Wisconsin — According to the United Nations, in alignment with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, Mexico has been “moderately improving” its water management situation since 2015. While Mexico still must overcome substantial obstacles in securing and maintaining acceptable water quality and sanitation standards, the Mexican government, as well as international nonprofit organizations have been facilitating SDG 6 in Mexico and have made progress.
What Is SDG 6?
SDG 6 is one of 17 SDGs established by the United Nations in 2015, which aims to “ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” The U.N. hopes to fulfill all 17 SDGs by 2030 around the world, resulting in a more prosperous and stable environment for current and future generations. The issues surrounding SDG 6 have been a topic of concern within the U.N. for several decades, with considerable efforts to improve the quality of the world’s drinking water and sanitation standards beginning with the 1977 Mar del Plata conference in Argentina, which declared access to water in sufficient quantity and quality to be a basic human right.
SDG 6’s Current Trends in Mexico
Over the past several decades, Mexico has had significant challenges, but also significant accomplishments regarding the management of its water supply and sanitation services. Since the establishment of SDG 6 in 2015, the percentage of Mexicans who are receiving both basic drinking water and sanitation services is considerably over 90%, with close to a 4% increase in basic sanitation services across the country within just five short years.
However, while around 96% of Mexico’s population is receiving basic water and sanitation services as of 2020, only around half of Mexicans are receiving water and sanitation services that are classified by the U.N. as “safely managed”. For water and sanitation services to be classified as safely managed, facilities must be reliable, safely located and must properly dispose of human waste products.
Tackling Mexico’s Water Challenges
Since 2015, the Mexican government has been proactive in the endeavor to provide clean water for its citizens. In recent years, Mexico has particularly focused on decontaminating the water supply in the regions encompassing Tijuana and its shared border with the United States and has been collaborating with the U.S. government to find a permanent, yet sustainable solution to combat transboundary pollution flows. As of 2021, the Mexican government has invested more than $46 million on local, state and federal levels toward water sanitation projects along the Tijuana River, including infrastructural repairs and technological upgrades on the pipelines used to handle waste products from the city of Tijuana and its surrounding areas
The United States has also invested $300 million through its Environmental Protection Agency toward expanding wastewater treatment within the Tijuana River Valley and alongside the Pacific coastline, which will provide dependable water sanitation services for more than 500,000 Tijuana residents. Additionally, the Mexican government introduced a draft of its Special Northern Border Sanitation Program, a federally-funded project that will be used to facilitate future initiatives within this highly polluted region.
Aside from government intervention, international nonprofit organizations such as Water.Org have been invaluable actors in promoting systemic-level changes regarding accessibility to clean water across Mexico. Through its program, Water Credit, Water.Org has impacted the lives of more than 58,000 Mexicans living in areas lacking water and sanitation access by distributing loans of about $1,400 to families in order for them to obtain running water and toilets within their homes.
Not only does access to water and sanitation services within the home remove the burden of families having to travel several miles for clean water, but it also promotes healthier water quality within the community through proper waste disposal. In addition to its Water Credit program, Water.Org has seven active partnerships with Mexican financial institutions and private water solutions providers. These partnerships advocate and provide technical insight for the institutionalization of programs similar to Water Credit that are more widespread throughout Mexico to expand these life-changing impacts.
A Move Toward Further Change by 2030
Since 2015, Mexico has made significant progress in providing basic water and sanitation services to its citizens, cleaning up the Tijuana region and partnering with nonprofits to supply running water for families in need. While Mexico still has significant progress to make in order to fulfill SDG 6 by 2030, these dedicated partnerships and comprehensive strategies have Mexico headed in the right direction.
– Reagan McDaniel