Coronavirus emergency: Italian government must ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Rome, 9th March 2020

It is clear that the measures taken by the Italian Government to contain the spread of Coronavirus pandemic are producing a state of exception and a substantial suspension of democracy.

We do not wish to embark on a reasoning about the appropriateness or necessity of these measures, but rather we want to highlight a contradiction that could have serious social and health repercussions.

In a situation where citizens are literally drowned out by prohibitions and prescriptions, in the collective and individual effort to mitigate the risk of contagion, nowhere have we read the most basic health and hygiene provision: access to water for all.

Throughout Italy, water service managers are implementing, with different nuances, the practice of cutting off water in the event of fraud or other irregularities such as those identified by the notorious Article 5 of Lupi Decree which denies access to essential public services, including water, to those who are forced to squatting for shelter.

This is a violation of a human right that is even more odious and dangerous for public health in the current context, in which the first mesure recalled by all is precisely hygiene.

We therefore call for the suspension of all water cut-off procedures: because today it is even more necessary to guarantee the availability of water for everyone through a specific regulation, regardless of being up to date with bill payments.

This is a measure due in an emergency situation, which we hope it can be dealt with in a general way by relaunching the debate on the public water law which has been blocked for months, without real justification, in the Environment Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

The increase in tariffs has meant that thousands of households can no longer pay for access to drinking water, while guaranteeing high profits for the operators. This measure must therefore be implemented without public money, but as a contribution by the operators to the emergency situation.

It is in fact a useful measure to limit the pandemia, and it also avoids putting a strain on a health system that has already proved its value despite years of under-investment.

We call on the italian Government and all political forces to act as we are convinced that although water is a human right recognised by the UN, market instruments should not be used to manage it.


Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l'Acqua