Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Water Barons

It's the first day of spring, and then March 22 is World Water Day. Considering how we’ve embarked on a new century of war to control the dwindling oil supplies, one can only imagine the impact of water scarcity.

Of course, it’s a luxury to "imagine" water scarcity. There are 1.1 billion people, or 18 per cent of the world's population, who DO lack access to safe drinking water. About 2.6 billion people, or 42 per cent of the total, lack access to basic sanitation (WHO/UNICEF, 2005 : 40)

In parts of the United States, China and India, groundwater is being consumed faster than it is being replenished, and groundwater tables are steadily falling. Some rivers, such as the Colorado River in the western United States and the Yellow River in China, often run dry before they reach the sea.

Freshwater ecosystems have been severely degraded: it is estimated that about half the world's wetlands have been lost, and more than 20 per cent of the world's 10,000 known freshwater species have become extinct, threatened or endangered.

Corporate privatization of the world’s water supplies is well underway, with multinationals jostling for position around the globe. And, as I am discovering, that monster is digging its tentacles into these hills around here. Well, why not?

From Jubilee South -
The Human Right to Water: Necessity for Action and Discourse
by Dr. D Roy Laifungbam, Posted on December 12 2003

"Access to a basic water requirement is a fundamental human right implicitly supported by international law, declarations, and State practice. Arguably, this right to water is even more basic and vital than some of the more explicit human rights already acknowledged by the international community, as can be seen by its recognition in many local customary laws, traditions or religious canon."

"... it is clear that "solving" the problem of equity in safe drinking water distribution is not simply a matter of building a wealthier country and "defeating poverty," with the assumption being this will ensure full coverage. Rather, it is more about building an ethic and changing frames in a way that respects concepts such as conservation, indigenous rights, and the importance of sustaining and sharing our "common" intergenerational water resources. At the heart of the case for a "human right to water" is the demand for not just action alone, but discourse in which equity is the core value. "

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