Today my blog titled, “Fighting alongside Africans for safe water” was posted at Care2.com under their Causes: Human Rights section. I could not be more excited – my writing is being shared with new readers and it is in the human rights section. I write about water, people, and my journey through life. When I first hearing about this opportunity, I was told, “I am sorry – your post is going to be in the human rights section – not a perfect fit, but there is no section on water.” I have to admit, I am glad there is no section on water.
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family.” ~Article 25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
1.5 million children die every year due to diarrheal diseases caused by lack of access to safe water and sanitation. Women spend hours every day walking to collect water – often water that is contaminated. Children stay out of school to collect water and because of illness. Although it is easy to forget when safe water flows freely from our taps, access to safe water is a necessary part of health and well-being of a family.
Although treaties focused on other issues have identified water as a human right, it was not until this summer that the UN General Assembly declared “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.” Safe water is no longer a privilege or attached to other rights; it is now a human right. There are a host of implications to water being a human right. Water is no longer something to be hoped for – it makes water a legal right, or something to be expected. It empowers people to ask for and work towards their own rights. It puts the focus on community and their right to water rather than the organization helping to provide the water. These are critical differences and beautiful reminders for all of us. And that is why I am glad my article on water was included in a human rights category.
“Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and, therefore, a basic human right. Contaminated water jeopardizes both the physical and social health of all people. It is an affront to human dignity.” ~Kofi Annan, Former United Nations Secretary General
If you would like to read more on water being a human right, here are a few resources: