Sueños de caños de agua

CHAPEL HILL, CAROLINA DEL NORTE – A pesar del progreso reciente, más de mil millones de personas aún carecen de suministros decentes de agua, y más de dos mil millones de personas no cuentan con servicios de saneamiento. Sin embargo, si bien solemos suponer que los beneficios que implica mejorar los sistemas de agua y saneamiento siempre superan a los costos, no siempre es verdad.

Las redes entubadas de agua y saneamiento son costosas. Los consumidores en la mayoría de los países no toman conciencia de esto, porque los verdaderos costos están disimulados por los subsidios. Una nueva investigación del Consenso de Copenhague revela que el costo total de llevar agua a un hogar es de 80 dólares por mes –más de lo que pagan la mayoría de los hogares en los países ricos y mucho más allá de las posibilidades de la mayoría de las familias en los países en desarrollo-. Suponiendo que los pobres usan mucha menos agua, el costo mensual de las tecnologías de redes convencionales cae a 20 dólares por mes –todavía una erogación importante.

Si calculamos el tiempo y la energía perdidos en los países en desarrollo para recolectar, tratar y almacenar agua, y la carga sanitaria causada por la falta de agua potable y un saneamiento decente, los costos de crear una red típica de agua y cloacas pueden seguir siendo más altos que los beneficios. Gastar una gran cantidad de dinero para generar un bienestar mínimo no es una inversión sólida.

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