Saturday, December 10, 2011
The Human Right to Water
In 2010, safe drinking water and sanitation were declared human rights by the United Nations General Assembly. The recent national poll shows that many Americans agree. In fact, the 61 percent of Americans that supported safe drinking water and sanitation ranked it highest among key U.S. development projects including ones that strengthen basic healthcare, improve opportunities for education, and defense or military training in developing countries.
"Access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is a right that everyone in the world ought to enjoy but too few are able to realize," said Senator Dick Durbin. "Water access is no longer simply a global health and development issue; it is a long-term threat that is increasingly becoming a national security issue. I hope this poll gives momentum to our efforts to ensure access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation for everyone who seeks it."
Nearly one in eight people do not have access to safe drinking water. Providing this basic human need would improve lives, especially the lives of millions of women in developing countries.
Women and young girls spend an average of 26 percent of their time collecting and transporting water for their families. This tireless task prevents girls from attending school and subjects them to adverse health effects from carrying a 40 pound container, the weight of an average first grader, on their heads.
Empowering young girls by allowing them the time to attend school is only one of the ways in which providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation can help millions of people around the world.
"Water is a fundamental human necessity in its own right and vital to sustainable progress in health, education, gender equality, and poverty alleviation," said John Oldfield, Managing Director of the WASH Advocacy Initiative. "We are doing everything we can to help governments around the world progressively realize the right to water and sanitation in their countries."