It seems that in our concern over domestic politics we lose sight of the some of the bigger problems facing the planet. Water is an issue that will be a major cause of confrontation and conflict in this century, right up there with oil and energy supplies. One problem is the privatization of the worlds water supply. This while supposedly creating a means to determine the most efficient use of water actually causes water to become an additional burden to the poor who can least afford to pay. Interestingly enough the issue of the right to safe drinking water is up before the UN and the United States is one of a handful of countries abstaining from participation in the process.
From Water Privatization Conflicts
“Currently there is a rush to privatize water services around the world. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are pushing for the privatization of water services by European and U.S.-based companies. They are pushing privatization through stipulations in trade agreements and loan conditions to developing countries. These privatization programs started in the early 1990’s and have since emerged in India, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Nigeria, Mexico, Malaysia, Australia, and the Philippines, to name a few. In Chile, the World Bank imposed a loan condition to guarantee a 33 percent profit margin to the French company Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux while the company insisted on a margin of 35 percent.
This privatization of services is only the first step toward the privatization of all aspects of water. Through this new globalization and privatization of water resources, there is an effort to replace collective ownership of water sources with corporate control. This effort is being met with increasing opposition. Supporters of privatization say that it has a great track record of success, increasing the efficiency, quality, reliability and affordability of services to the population.”
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From Green Cross the NGO founded by Mikhail Gorbachev
” 2 (days) to secure right to water & sanitation legal framework
With just two (days) to go until a crucial decision on whether to further recognize water and sanitation as human rights, civil society organizations are warning that the lives of billions of people are at risk if governments do not act now.
On 23 September, a decision will be made on whether to pass a resolution on the rights to water and sanitation at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, a move which holds the potential to transform the lives of the world’s poor.
GCI is among a coalition of civil society organizations and NGOs calling on all governments to seize this opportunity to help the 2.6 billion people currently living without sanitation and the 884 million people living without access to safe water by supporting the resolution. Other NGOs in the coalition include the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW), Both ENDS, Brot fuer die Welt, Freshwater Action Network, Simavi, WWF, WASH United and WaterLex.
The legal framework will galvanize progress made in July when the General Assembly recognized water and sanitation as rights by putting the rights into operation throughout the UN human rights system. The process will start on Monday when a draft resolution will be tabled that clarifies the legal basis of the rights.
This news came in the midst of Stockholm Water Week, where civil society is mobilizing support for this vital resolution. If passed, it will pave the way for the rights to be mainstreamed throughout the UN Human Rights mechanisms. This critical step will empower more people to hold governments and service providers to account, backed up by the human rights system.
The next step is to convince national governments of the need to support this crucial development, which affirms the value of the work done by the UN Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. In addition, the UN Independent Expert recommended last year that sanitation be recognized as a human right.
The UK is a particular target for influence, as it abstained from the resolution passed at the General Assembly earlier this year along with the US, Canada Japan, Poland, Australia and the Czech Republic. There was, however, widespread support throughout the South and in Europe and no countries opposed it.
Danielle Morley, Executive Secretary of the Freshwater Action Network pointed out that; “This is a fantastic development and has the potential to have a huge impact on the water and sanitation sector. We are rising to the challenge and we call on anyone who can influence this outcome to help up make it happen. There are just two weeks to take action. Please act now.”
Thorsten Kiefer, from Brot fuer die Welt (Bread for the World) commented that: ”The latest research shows the diarrhoea has become the biggest killer of Africa’s children (according to Lancet report July 2010). It is high time that the rights to water and sanitation are fully affirmed by the Council so we can focus our full attention to the implementation of these rights and stop the needless deaths of more than 4,000 children every day.””
* 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people.
* 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease.
* The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
* Poor people living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city.
* An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.
* Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation – defined as a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact.
* Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection.
* 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion people who have no facilities at all.
* Of the 60 million people added to the world’s towns and cities every year, most occupy impoverished slums and shanty-towns with no sanitation facilities.
* Dirrahoea remains in the second leading cause of death among children under five globally. Nearly one in five child deaths – about 1.5 million each year – is due to diarrhea. It kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
* Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.
* Diarrheoa is more prevalent in the developing world due, in large part, to the lack of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as poorer overall health and nutritional status.
* Children in poor environments often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies at any time.
* In the developing world, 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea contracted from unclean water.
* 1.4 million children die as a result of diarrhea each year.
* In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water for domestic use.
* This lost productivity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Wal*Mart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger, according to Gary White, co-founder of Water.org.
* Millions of women and children spend several hours a day collecting water from distant, often polluted sources.
* A study by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) of community water and sanitation projects in 88 communities found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that do not. This supports an earlier World Bank study that found that women’s participation was strongly associated with water and sanitation project effectiveness.
* At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
* The majority of the illness in the world is caused by fecal matter.
* Almost one-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by improving water supply, sanitation, hygiene and management of water resources. Such improvements reduce child mortality and improve health and nutritional status in a sustainable way.
* 88% of cases of diarrhea worldwide are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene.
* 90% of all deaths caused by diarrheal diseases are children under 5 years of age, mostly in developing countries.
* It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities could reduce diarrhea-related deaths in young children by more than one-third. If hygiene promotion is added, such as teaching proper hand washing, deaths could be reduced by two thirds. It would also help accelerate economic and social development in countries where sanitation is a major cause of lost work and school days because of illness.
* Over 50 percent of all water projects fail and less than five percent of projects are visited, and far less than one percent have any longer-term monitoring.
* Investment in safe drinking water and sanitation contributes to economic growth. For each $1 invested, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates returns of $3 – $34, depending on the region and technology.
* Almost two in every three people who need safe drinking water survive on less than $2 a day and one in three on less than $1 a day.
* Households, not public agencies, often make the largest investment in basic sanitation, with the ratio of household to government investment typically 10 to 1.
* Investment in drinking-water and sanitation would result in 272 million more school attendance days a year. The value of deaths averted, based on discounted future earnings, would amount to US$ 3.6 billion a year.
* Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use. More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas.
* The UN estimates that by 2025, forty-eight nations, with combined population of 2.8 billion, will face freshwater “stress” or “scarcity”. Our Water.org High School Curriculum
* Agriculture is the largest consumer of freshwater by far: about 70% of all freshwater withdrawals go to irrigated agriculture.
* At home the average American uses between 100 and 175 gallons of water a day. That is less than 25 years ago, but it does not include the amount of water used to feed and clothe us.
* Conserving water helps not only to preserve irreplaceable natural resources, but also to reduce the strain on urban wastewater management systems. Wastewater is costly to treat, and requires continuous investment to ensure that the water we return to our waterways is as clean as possible.”
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Tags: World Water Crisis