Human Rights to Water
When many people hear the term “human rights”, they usually think about the right to freely practice one’s religion, offer political opinions or follow one’s way of life without fear of reprisal or violence. While these are all incredibly important, however, one of the most basic human rights often goes unspoken of: the right to clean, accessible water.
The Most Precious Thing
It was Jacques Cousteau, the famous oceanic explorer, who said that water is the single most precious substance on the planet. Access to clean water allows people to perform some of the most basic and needful activities of everyday living: with it, they can prepare food, hydrate themselves, wash their clothing, houses and bodies. When access to clean water is combined with decent sanitation systems for the proper disposal of human waste, the environment which people live in becomes clean and supportive of individual and community safety. Water is as much a matter of human dignity as it is of human health.
As Things Stand Now…
Currently, universal access to clean and safe water remains the dream rather than the reality. Especially in the developing countries, access is often determined by one’s socioeconomic status, with the following results.
- The average distance a woman in Asia or Africa must walk to get water for her home is 6km.
- At any given time, roughly half the population in the developing world suffers from some sort of water-born illness or disease.
- Unclean water is the 2nd leading cause of childhood death.
- More people die every year from water-born illness than from tuberculosis, AIDs and meningitis.
The good news is that more and more people are becoming aware of this problem and in 2010, with passing of Resolution 64/292, the United National General Assembly recognized access to clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right. The resolution called on individual nations as well as international organizations to provide the monetary and technological assistance necessary to develop universal access to this most precious commodity. On an individual level, everyday people can make a difference by educating others, raising awareness and supporting organizations like UNICEF, who have made increasing access to safe water a priority all over the world. Working together, it is possible that this most basic of human rights can be met for everyone.
National Education Association www.nea.org
United Nations Official Website www.un.org
End Water Poverty www.endwaterpoverty.org
by The Great Gathering
Copyright The Great Gathering 2014©