March 22nd is World Water Day, a day set aside to celebrate and protect one of life’s most precious gifts. But is has also become a day when people around the world are forced to defend and demand their right to water!
World Water Day also coincides with the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. At the Forum, hundreds of United Nations representatives, policy-makers, and business leaders come together to discuss world water solutions but mostly with the intent of driving profits on water. It has also excluded the concerns and input of grassroots groups and world citizens. Hence, water activists hold a Counter World Water Forum to promote water rights and local decision-making around water needs.
Fresh water has become like oil: a once abundant resource that is commodified, taken from the people, and sold to the highest bidder. But critical differences exist. No one owns water, it belongs to everyone. Like air, it is necessary for life and without it, people die.
This possibility is no longer fiction. Countries around the world are allowing their fresh water supplies in rivers, lakes, aquifers, and even rainwater to be tapped, bottled, sold, and distributed by companies seeking easy profits. As a result, children are dying, people are ill, and communities are collapsing. Water belongs to no government, no company, and no international cartel. It belongs to the earth, it belongs to the people.
No one has the right to deny people of their right to life-sustaining water because of their inability to pay. Moreover, companies and governments have no right to enter into agreements that sacrifice clean water access at the expense of local community needs. In Chile, for example, companies are draining more water than they are permitted and entire cities, villages and farms are being decimated.
Food & Water Watch has launched a petition campaign to ask Congress to protect out water and water infrastructure with a Water Trust. Join in and find out what your local officials are doing to safeguard your municipal water system. The solutions to water access and sanitation will not come from big business or free-market governments. Don’t be duped! The solutions rests with local communities leading the effort to determine their needs and rights so that everyone can benefit from this life-giving natural resource.
(Image courtesy of U.N. World Water Day)