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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Water enough but not for all

No land an island, no people apart
Rights for all Earth, waters, creatures
Re-reporting, editing, comment by Carolyn Bennett

Every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.

People and Water 

There is enough freshwater on the planet for six billion people but it is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed.

Water scarcity affects every continent. 

Around 1.2 billion people (almost one-fifth of the world’s population) live in areas of physical scarcity; 500 million people are now approaching this situation. Another 1.6 billion people (almost one quarter of the world's population) face economic water shortage (where countries lack the necessary infrastructure to take water from rivers and aquifers).

700 million people (est.) in 43 countries suffer from water scarcity.

1.8 billion people (by 2025) will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.

Water scarcity in some arid and semi-arid places will displace between 24 million and 700 million people.

Half the world’s population (given existing climate change scenario, by 2030) will be living in areas of high water stress — including between 75 million and 250 million people in Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa has globally the largest number of water-
Map of sub-Saharan countries:
stressed countries.

Water scarcity is a natural and a human-made phenomenon and there is enough freshwater on the planet for six billion people but it is distributed unevenly and too much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed.

“Water is essential for life. No living being on planet Earth can survive without it. It is a prerequisite for human health and well-being as well as for the preservation of the environment.” The UN states what should be obvious in its “Water for Life” Decade notes, and continues compellingly.

“However, four of every ten people in the world have no access to even a simple pit latrine; nearly two in ten have no source of safe drinking water.

“Every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.”

The World Health Organization has found that daily approximately 3,900 children die because of dirty water or poor hygiene.

After respiratory diseases, the second-leading cause of death among children, worldwide, are diseases transmitted through water or human excrement.

“Water scarcity, poor water quality, and inadequate sanitation negatively affect food security, livelihood choices, and educational opportunities for poor families across the world.

“Water-related natural disasters — such as floods, tropical storms and tsunamis — exact a heavy toll in human life and suffering. Drought regularly afflicts some of the world’s poorest countries and thus exacerbates [conditions of] hunger and malnutrition.”

In his August 22 opening speech of World Water Week 2011, the executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute, Anders Berntell, said, “Securing water, energy and food is central to alleviating poverty and creating a robust and climate-resilient green economy. …[and] of particular concern are the  poorest of the poor who survive without access to safe water, energy or adequate food supply.”

Earth and Water 

“Clean water is a right, enshrined both for humans under the UN World Water Pro
gram (though in a still-limited capacity because of politics) and for the earth in Cochabamba’s Rights of Mother Earth Accord,” Krystalline Kraus writes in a piece posted at Rabble Ca.

“Why,” she asks, “do we have to tie water rights to our consumption?

Planet Earth Britannica image
The earth’s natural resources should not be seen under the lens of human usability and consumption alone. Seeing everything as a commodity traps us in the identity of consumer as if that were our only role on this planet

“Why can’t the right to clean water be for the water’s sake alone? What about all the plants, animals and Mother Earth herself since we are all related and connected in a circle.

“We cannot live in harmony with nature if we place ourselves outside the circle but that is exactly what we have done in wantonly polluting the waters of Mother Earth.

“Polluting our blood with toxins can cause septicemia and death. Polluting the waters of Mother Earth can cause her illness and death.

“‘Our’ water (?), but water really is not ours,” Kraus concludes. “Never was — never will be.”

Sources and notes

Water scarcity defined: the point at which the aggregate impact of all users impinges on the supply or quality of water under prevailing institutional arrangements to the extent that the demand by all sectors, including the environment, cannot be satisfied fully.

Water scarcity is a relative concept and can occur at any level of supply or demand. Scarcity may be a social construct (a product of affluence, expectations and customary behavior) or the consequence of altered supply patterns - stemming from climate change for example.

Water scarcity is among the main problems to be faced by many societies and the World in the twenty-first century. Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century; and, although there is no global water scarcity as such, an increasing number of regions are chronically short of water. http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/scarcity.shtml
Media information: “Water for Life” Decade, water-decade@un.org
United Nations Office to support the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015; UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC); Tel: +34 976 478 346; Fax: +34 976 478 349; E-mail: water-decade@un.org; http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/background.shtml

Opening speech, World Water Week August 22, 2011, Mr. Anders Berntell, Executive Director, SIWI, http://www.worldwaterweek.org/documents/WWW_PDF/Media/speech/Opening-speach-Anders-Berntell-20110822.pdf

World Water Week in Stockholm has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991 and is hosted and organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

World Water Week niche and theme: Each year the World Water Week addresses a particular theme to enable a deeper examination of a specific water-related topic.

The current niche for 2009-2012: ‘Responding to Global Changes’; its themes •2009: Accessing Water for the Common Good •2010: The Water Quality Challenge •2011: Water in an Urbanizing World •2012: Water and Global Food Security (tentative), http://www.worldwaterweek.org/about

“The Earth’s water crisis, our water crisis” (Krystalline Kraus), August 24, 2011, http://rabble.ca/news/2011/08/ours-and-earths-water-crisis

Krystalline Kraus writes the Activist Communiqué blog for rabble.ca.

“Vision: The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth Is Our Roadmap to a Liveable Future (Nnimmo Bassey), June 9, 2011,

“The prime anchor of the proposed Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth is that every element in Nature is interdependent and one cannot ignore the rights of the other without consequences. A grasping of this truth brings clarity to the fact that the Earth herself is finite and limited. It also helps us to grasp that if the resources of the Earth were used sustainably there would be enough to sustain every creature and living being in a continuously renewing manner.”

Plurinational State of Bolivia Ministry of Foreign Relations (Press Release), December 23, 2010, “United Nations Approves Two More Resolutions by Bolivia: Harmony with Nature and World Conference on Indigenous Peoples,” http://boliviaun.net/cms/?cat=136


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