Background Gradient

Argentina

Argentina is the second largest country by area in the Southern Cone and has a population of more that 45 million people. The size of the country, its different altitudes, topography, and variable climate result in un-uniform access to water resources throughout the territory, creating a number of challenges to water management.

A rich source of information for measuring the current state of access to water and sanitation are household surveys. Throughout Latin America and the Carribean, household surveys provide us with representative data of the countries' population, validated by statistical institutes, which allow cross-checking with other social statistics such as area, income, and gender breakdowns.

This page relies heavily on Argentina's Permanent Household Survey 2020, which surveyed 27,945 representative households in urban areas. The survey does not gather data on rural households and as such lacks country-wide data and rural data.

The survey includes questions about water and sanitation that allow for the creation of statistics like the percent of households with piped water in their home, as well as the metrics related to sanitation like the type of sanitation facilities and whether those facilities are used solely by the household surveyed. The questions, however, are not aligned with the WHO/UNICEF guidelines and as such do not allow proper calculation of many important metrics related to water access and sanitation.

For more information on why OLAS uses household surveys, click here.

Data Sources:
Methodology:

Progress Towards Measuring SDG 6

Sociodemography

Generally rural areas have significantly lower coverage of access to water and sanitation than their urban counterparts throughout LAC. In 2020, approximately 8% of Argentines lived in rural areas. These households are not covered by Argentina’s household survey and so are not refected in the numbers on this page.

Inequality in Argentina’s urban areas is evident when viewing the income quintiles of the country’s 2020 household survey (27,945 households). Each quintile represents 20% of the Argentine population, with the 1st quintile representing the lowest income and the 5th representing the highest-income households in the country. Income inequality is a challenge in Argentina, where among urban households the average income per capita of the top quintile is 27 times higher than that of the bottom quintile. This data can be downloaded and explored here.

Average monthly household income by quintile in local currency

Population

Urbanization rate

Rural

Urban

Water access

Water access

Most Argentines live in urban areas with high access coverage to improved water sources. However, Argentina does not conduct household surveys in rural areas, which makes it difficult to understand the differences in access to water and sanitation in rural versus urban communities. In urban areas, higher incomes are associated with greater access to piped water to the home or land (93.5%) than lower income quintiles, which also have high access coverage (85.9%). This data can be downloaded here.

Sanitation Access

Sanitation Access

Access to sanitation is quite high in Argentina. In 2020, 97% of urban households had access to dedicated sanitation facilities. However, only 65% of households have sewer connections and 26% have connections to septic tanks, which still leaves 9% of the urban population using latrines (~6%), open defecation (<1%) and other facilities. The data can be further explored here.

Water Resources

Water Resources

Water Availability

Due to its size and variable elevation, Argentina has a variety of climates. Despite being a country rich in water, it has an uneven distribution of [water resources](https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/c0c9e9f1-es/index.html?itemId=/content/component/ c0c9e9f1-es) with two thirds of its territory being classified as arid (61% of the country’s total area) and semi-arid (15% of the country’s total area). These basins have low rainfall and contain less than 1% of the country’s total surface water. Eighty-five percent of the country’s surface water is found in the La Plata River basin (24% of the country’s total area), which is also home to the highest concentration of the population and productive activity. 30% of total water demand comes from groundwater extraction, while the remaining 70% is sourced from surface water.

Water Stress

Argentina experiences medium-high water stress. Due to its geographical location, climatic diversity and relief, Argentina is subject to the occurrence of natural phenomena such as droughts and floods. Droughts in recent years have caused greater water stress, especially in the northwestern region. The Puneños aquifer – which extends between Argentina and Bolivia – presents high water stress, due to the fact that low precipitation levels cause scarce recharge of groundwater.

Wastewater Treatment

In 2019, the level of treatment of the total wastewater collected was 27,6%. The main associated problem is the discharge of domestic and industrial wastewater effluents without adequate treatment, generating contamination of surface water bodies. This, together with unsustainable agricultural practices, deforestation, the use of agrochemicals, and changes in land use (urbanization), affect the water balance and the quality of water resources.

Water and Sanitation Management

Water and Sanitation Management

Institutional Framework

In Argentina, there is horizontal coordination between the different national institutions. This presents a challenge in cases where the assignment of responsibilities overlaps. As a way to address these horizontal coordination challenges at the national level, in 2015 the Water Cabinet was created with the objective of achieving coordination of public policies related to water management within the orbit of the Ministry of the Interior, Public Works and Housing.

Regulatory Framework

The Constitution of the Argentine Nation of 1853 declares the provinces as owners of their water resources, so they are responsible for the provision of water services in their jurisdiction. There is no national water law or framework; each of the 23 provinces and the city of Buenos Aires has its own legislation on management and provision of water and sanitation services. Their powers as a province include: policy formulation and implementation, operational management, and financing and regulation.

The main regulations for the sector are:

At national level:
  • Constitution of the Argentine Nation of 1853
  • Civil and Commercial Code (CCyC) of 2015
  • Environmental Water Management Law No. 25688 of 2002
  • Law No. 26,221 of 2007
  • Guiding Principles of Water Policy of the Argentine Republic
At provincial level:
  • Constitution of Buenos Aires of 1994
  • Water Code of the Province of Buenos Aires (Law No. 12,257 of 1999)

Development Programs and Plans

Argentina has two main plans related to the water and sanitation sector:

  • i) the Development Plan of Argentina 2019-2023, which has as one of its objectives “Guaranteeing access to drinking water and sanitation and drainage services” and;
  • ii) the Federal Water and Sanitation Plan (PFAyS), which aims to ensure access to basic services for the entire population. Its goal for 2023 is to achieve 88% access to drinking water and 66% access to sanitation throughout the country.