water is a human right, why is it so elusive?

Privatizing water has taken the world by storm. How many people would rather pay for cases of bottled water than take it from their tap? How many communities are deprived of water because a corporation moves in to contain and sell their water? The situations are similar to what happens here in the US and what is happening across Africa. The greatest new commodity essential to life in the world is a bottle of water. This is no more evident in the US where we are so caught up in the corporate farce that we prefer the tastes of different waters – or so we think. Here is also comes with the idea that it is safer, cleaner, and healthier to drink bottled water as opposed to tap water. ABC news presented a special on the myths of bottled water. The leading expert, used by the bottled water companies, said that there was no reason to say either tap or bottled water was better than the other. The also conducted a taste test with NYC tap water and five other bottled waters, including the top selling, french Evian. Tap water ranked fairly high at #3 with a bottled water and Evian ranked at the very bottom as the least good tasting water sample.

What is wrong with this picture? In the US we would rather pay five dollars for a gallon of water than drink the great tap water that is virtually free? How can this happen when there is such a huge scarcity of water in the world. Over 1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to clean, safe water to drink. We are talking about any drinkable water at all – but we would rather complain about taste and healthiness. In 2002, the Copenhagen Consensus determined that it was a government’s responsibility to ensure the right to water for all citizens. Sadly this has not been the case in far too many developing countries. So if the public sector fails to ensure the right to water, can the private sector fill the gap?

From Reason Magazine: “Contractors often drive tankers to poor districts, selling water by the can, in which case the very poorest of the world’s inhabitants are already exposed to market forces but on very unfair terms, because water obtained like this is on average twelve times more expensive than water from regular water mains, and often still more expensive than that.” Many times whole water supply and treatment systems are sold to private corporations. However, well many times privatization creates a price increase for a minority of people already connected to an ineffective government water system, a greater number of people without access to water are served. There are plenty of examples to argue both for and against water privatization. In the long-term, as with most development policies, when privatization is implemented correctly with the majority of people in focus then it works as a positive. Many activists de-cry water privatization as an evil and it can be. The new fear is the great “corporate water grab.” Just as with oil, policies need to be created to make sure the needs of people are met, not just business interests. In many African countries it is too late and privatization has taken a negative toll on the poor’s ability to access water.

As far as bottled water, just stop buying it. This drives up the cost of water and its increased privatization as well as created more pollution. Re-use a water container and drink the beautiful water from your tap.

s.c.o.u.t. b.a.n.a.n.a.

Our mission is to combine efforts to save lives with commitment and determination in Africa. S.C.O.U.T. B.A.N.A.N.A. as an organization has a purpose dedicated to converting passion into action. All too often people are presented with extremely moving and emotional experiences, but without an opportunity to act on their new found feelings of empathy. SB believes that ONE person can make a difference in the world. All ONE needs to decide is what kind of a difference they want to make. SB works to link individuals and groups in North America and Western countries with projects creating sustainable solutions to the crisis of access to basic healthcare in Africa. With the understanding that `big plans’ will not solve the problems of the world, SB seeks out the people and organizations, who are making effective and sustainable change on the ground in Africa. SB is focused on partnering student chapters in the West with projects in Africa.

The necessity of basic healthcare as a basic right of all people is huge issue in Africa as people die needlessly from preventable diseases and a lack of access to the right to health. Clean drinking water, secure sources of food, access to medications, need for emergency transportation, and supporting health infrastructures are the overarching goals of SB. We are committed to using the power and privilege of where we live to save lives in Africa. We are not imposing our ideas on the people of Africa, but working with them to find the best solutions to provide the necessary basic healthcare.

SB is not interested in giving handouts, but in providing sustainable aid for people and projects who will change and shape their communities in need. SB believes in the idea of a global community and that no matter where you live or what your desires – every person has the same wants and needs: to have clean water to drink, food to eat, medicines to get well, to be healthy. SB is dedicated to uplifting the oppressed and assisting them in turning their dreams into futures by way of health.

We are students, parents, teachers, activists, artists, musicians, and community leaders combining forces to create sustainable and healthy changes for the health crisis in Africa. We are an organization committed to working innovatively to provide what is most needed by people suffering from the health crisis. SB’s goal is to raise awareness about the health crisis in Africa and also raise funds to support projects effectively reaching the people in need on the ground in Africa.

People are dying, that is our reason for action; that is our rally cry. People are dying and they shouldn’t be. We have the access and the ability to give the dying a face and a voice and a life. The short time I spent in Uganda four summers ago, I ate, played, sang, smiled, and met with people who I know are no longer there and that is why I continue to tell their stories and ask for help.