Murky data on water pollution puts health at risk in Asia – researchers
In south-central Thailand, villagers near the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, home to petrochemical plants, oil refineries and coal-fired power stations, worry that their water is heavily polluted.
Sometimes, the data was unavailable publicly or presented in a language communities could not understand.
When information was released, it was often poor, technical and did not meet local people’s demands, said the report issued on Wednesday.
“Access to information is really the foundation for any kind of meaningful public participation or accountability in environmental decision-making,” Elizabeth Moses, the report’s co-author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In Thailand and Mongolia, people who request information are asked to come to the environment ministry to pick it up, even though some live hours away and do not have the money or time to travel, added the WRI specialist in water governance.
“For the world’s poorest people, access to clean water means fewer outbreaks of deadly diseases, less time spent away from the classroom by children collecting water, and greater economic opportunities for women,” said the WRI report.
While all three countries the WRI report focuses on have comprehensive laws to disclose information, many do not indicate how information is to be made available or comprehensible to affected communities, the report said.
The Indonesian and Thai environment ministries did not respond to Thomson Reuters Foundation requests for comment.
The ministry will soon seek parliamentary approval for amendments to tighten up implementation of a 2012 law on fees for water pollution, he added.
The WRI report urged the three governments to set up national systems to collect and publish environmental information.