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Water For All?

[caption id="attachment_5169" align="alignright" width="300"] Blog by Justice Promoter Kelly Litt[/caption] Many individuals in developing countries lack basic access to clean, accessible drinking water, we know this. In 2010, the United Nations recognized the human right to water and sanitation and has since been working to ensure all have access to this basic human right. This is one of the Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations is working to achieve by 2030. According to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, “while 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, only 2.6 percent of it is usable freshwater and 884 million people do not have access to a safe drinking water source.” Having access to clean, drinkable water is a life necessity and is also mandatory in order to adhere to Catholic Social Teaching and uphold the dignity of each person. Yet, there’s been a lot of rhetoric lately in the public sphere urging leaders to focus on taking care of American citizens before getting involved in international affairs. While the United Nations (and many other faith-based and civil society organizations) have made great progress in providing access to clean water and sanitation around the world, it may be surprising that the United States is facing a water crisis at home. Let’s not so quickly forget Flint, Michigan where residents still cannot drink their tap water, or California where recent droughts and the melting of mountain snowpack has resulted in water restrictions across the state. According to a new study from Michigan State University, in 5 years, water will be unaffordable to more than 35% of the U.S. population. This is a staggering and almost unbelievable statistic; that’s roughly 112.5 million people! Why the rising costs? Among many things, aging infrastructure, water pollution, and water privatization. What can we do? Let’s start small by being responsible consumers: conserve water and stop buying bottled water. Ask questions and do some research. Do the producers you purchase from have sustainable water practices and view water as a human right rather than something to be privatized? We all need water, a basic human right, to survive. Let’s continue having these discussions and engaging with others on these critical justice issues. What else can we do to ensure all have access to water?

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