Happy World Water Day! World Water Day (WWD) is held every year on March 22 since 1993. This year’s theme is “Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible” focusing on freshwater. The idea for WWD goes back to 1992 when the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development took place in Rio de Janeiro. That same year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that declared March 22 World Water Day. A core focus of WWD this year is to forward the Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030. In 2019, the theme was “Leaving no one behind” focusing on women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people, and other marginalized groups often forgotten in the world water crisis.
"...Someone might ask you, 'What is water?' and you would respond with 'Rain, ocean, lake, river, H20, liquid.' You might even understand the sacred essentiality of water and say that water is life. But what if I asked you, instead, 'Who is water?' In the same way that I might ask you, 'Who is your grandmother?' 'Who is your sister?'
That type of orientation fundamentally transforms the way in which we think about water, transforms the way in which we make decisions about how we might protect water, protect it in the way that you would protect your grandmother, your mother, your sister, your aunties. That is the type of transformation that we need if we are going to address the many water crises we see in our world today..." Kelsey Leonard, Shinnecock Nation
A global crisis
Our bodies are made up mostly of water (about 60%) and our Earth is made up mostly of water (71%). Despite the importance of water to our livelihood, 2.2 billion people live without access to safe water, this includes 2.2 million Americans. Every year, 297,000 children (at least 700 each day) around the world under the age of 5 die from diseases due to poor sanitation, poor hygiene, or unsafe drinking water.
The key to long-term sustainability is simple: invest in water. The World Health Organization estimates that for every dollar invested in water and sanitation, the economic return could be 430% or higher! Having access to clean water:
Keeps children and families safe and healthy
Reduces food insecurity by making it easier for families and farmers to grow crops
Helps end cycles of poverty
Gives schools and communities an essential resource
Injustices in our backyards
In the United States, race is the strongest predictor of water and sanitation access. 58 of every 1,000 Indigenous households lack plumbing, compared with 3 of every 1,000 white households. This makes Indigenous households 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing. The second strongest predictor of plumbing access is economic status. From Standing Rock to Line 3, Indigenous peoples know these injustices.
“Among our Potawatomi people, women are the Keepers of Water. We carry the sacred water to ceremonies and act on its behalf. 'Women have a natural bond with water, because we are both life bearers,' my sister said. 'We carry our babies in internal ponds and they come forth into the world on a wave of water. It is our responsibility to safeguard the water for all our relations.'" Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
According to UN-Water, Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, "Access to water and sanitation are recognized by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basics in every person’s life. Lack of access to safe, sufficient and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity and prosperity of billions of people, and has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights.
People are rights-holders and States are duty-bearers of providing water and sanitation services. Rights-holders can claim their rights and duty-bearers must guarantee the rights to water and sanitation equally and without discrimination." We must all fight for a world that prioritizes the rights of people over the concerns of capital.
WPLC stands in solidarity with the Water and those who care for Her. Everyone deserves clean water. She knows no borders.
Tó éí iiná
Agua es vida
Ola I Ka Wai
Water is life