Thursday, May 15, 2008

At least 20 liters a day –

This is my contribution to Bloggers Unite for Human Rights – May 15, 2008. I feel that I was only able to scratch the surface but I learned a lot as I studied for this entry. I hope you find my findings interesting.


Water - Ever since the dawn of time, human kind has forged their settlements around its availability. Water to drink, to irrigate the seeds that they had learned would supply them with grain. The watering holes were where the animals congregated – good for the hunter – not so good if you were the hunted.

Water – “Cool, clear water” the old cowboy song says – for most people of the world it is there when they need it, without thought – just turn on the faucet. But one of every six people on the planet lack access to safe drinking water – that is over 1.1 billion people globally. “Deprivation linked to water is a source of poverty, of inequality, of social injustice, and of great disparities in life chances.” (K. Watkins, Director UN Human Development Report Office) Water-related diseases kill up to FIVE million people annually. Half of all the schools in the world do not have access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. This lack of access disproportionately affects the lives of women and children because they are the “providers” – it is their jobs to provide water for the family and the animals – often they will walk many miles a day and wait in line for hours only to find the water tainted.

Water as a fundamental Human Right, not a commodity - Around the world, people are finally beginning to assert that access to affordable, safe and sufficient water is a human right. International human rights law now requires governments to make their best efforts to provide water to their citizens and demands that they report on their progress.* (“Right to Water”, a Unitarian Universalist Service Committee [UUSC] environmental justice report)

Ironically only 3-5% of the world’s water is used for “human needs” such as drinking and bathing. Most of the world’s water is used by agriculture. A critical problem facing many areas of the US & the world is the contamination of surface and ground water by mining. This contamination becomes a two-fold problem because it destroys agriculture – many families end up having to buy the majority of the basic staples because of the effects of mining.

“Water costs nothing for those with everything and everything for those with nothing.” - It is believed that over 100,000 deaths will occur due to the current crisis in Myanmar [Burma], sadly caused by too much water in the form of a cyclone, which has left this impoverished nation with little water that is not affected by sewage or contamination from the bodies of dead persons and animals. Even before this crisis, it is estimated that a child dies every 15 seconds from a water-related disease, cholera, diarrhea, malaria to name a few.

Reading the articles to write this blog was sobering and yet, I believe that major strides have been made in this area of Human Rights. Simply the global RECOGNITION that the right to clean fresh water is one of the inalienable rights of all members of the human family is a start. All it will take is 20 liters a day.

* Some of the articles that I read for this blog entry are:
“Water Rights and Wrongs” A young people’s summary of the Untied Nations Human Development Report 2006 – Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis.

“Right to Water: Crisis and Hope” a publication of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee on defending the human right to water.

6 comments:

akalol said...

Interesting point about the right to clean drinking water as a basic human right. The world needs to get its priorities right and governments should focus on the good of the many and not on the good of the few who want to stay in power forever.

Leigh said...

Very interesting. Living in a severe drought area like I do, we have become very water conscious and look for little ways to conserve.

One thing that I wrestle with, is dyeing. I always feel guilty having to use so much water to rinse the dyes out properly.

Kathy said...

I will add to Leigh's comments - washing fleece. We, too, live in an area where water is a precious commodity. Lack/Abundance of it effects the growth of towns in our area as well as what little agriculture goes on in N. AZ. And this state is still doing battle with CO, UT, NV, & CA for the water rights of the Colorado River.

Thank you, Tina...for reminding us how lucky we are to have some of the world's safest water by turning on a tap...and how others don't have that luxury.

Sharon said...

In the high desert, we too struggle with water rights. Read Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner for a sobering education. It's not only "right to water" but the right to water sans toxins and pesticides - and resultant birth defects, etc.

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie said...

Thank you for this post. Water as a basic human right is what I've written about for my posting as well. And I'm working with students in America to help them understand just how much their easy acess to water needs to be appreciated:
We can't wait:Bloggers Unite For Human Rights