Here’s how Nestle is leaving millions in Pakistan, Nigeria and Flint without clean water
1.2 billion people in the world lack clean drinking water. Pakistan may run out of water by 2025, while 15 out of 21 million Nigerians have no clean water access. In North America, Flint, Michigan residents will not have clean drinking water until 2020, while California is in a seemingly permanent drought. Why then, are these regions’ governments selling natural water resources to Nestle, a private, European corporation, which then bottles and sells the water? In case you didn’t know, Nestle is literally hoarding water from around the world to bottle and sell for a huge profit – in Pakistan, Africa, even in the United States. Nestle got the memo that clean, natural water resources are drying out, and they are buying them up (for as little as $200). Ironically, the communities that live the closest to their water plants are suffering the most.
Of course, the worst affected are the already poor and hungry regions of the world, like Lahore, Pakistan. Nestle’s Pakistan plant was censured for not providing drinking water to the local community in 2015. In 2013, reports came that thousands of Pakistanis in the Bhati Diwan village were getting sick by being forced to drink sludge water, as Nestle drained their water supply for their bottled water. Dirty drinking water causes malaria, even death. Nestle was actually selling this water back to Pakistanis while denying the citizens access to it. Since 1998, Nestle has been selling Pure Life bottled water in Lahore, planting doubt in the region about the tap water’s cleanliness, and leading the government to neglect the cleanliness of the tap water. Similarly, many North Americans, including myself, now reach for a water bottle and are hesitate to drink tap water.
We often see heartbreaking photos of children in Africa walking for miles to fill a bucket of clean water. Nestle has been buying out water resources in Nigeria for the past 50 years, according to Premium Times. In fact, Bloomberg reports water shortages in Nigeria have killed more people than Boko Haram (approximately 7,000). This problem is not unique to developing countries: activists and communities are fighting Nestle for water in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. Specifically, in Michigan, 100,000 residents only have access to poisonous drinking water. Since 2014, 12,000 children were exposed to lead, and 10 people have died. They have to drink bottled water until 2020… but did you know that Michigan’s governor (who has personal ties to Nestle), sold Michigan’s clean water reserves for Nestle’s private use?
At least in the majority of situations, these modernized, rich countries have successful resources and funding to successfully fight sneaky corporations, while villagers in places such as Pakistan, Nigeria, are voiceless, defenceless, and worse yet, completely unaware.
The world’s water shortage is serious, but it’s preventable.
Corporations like Nestle need to stop hoarding water; and city, state, and national governments and institutions need to stop selling it to them. If you have not heard anything lately about this crisis, it’s because of Nestle propaganda. After effective campaigns by watchdog groups SumofUS.org and MoveOn in 2013, public outcry led Nestle to drown media headlines with their ‘philanthropic’ efforts. But why would countries filled with natural water resources need a European corporation to give them bottled water? Is it because that foreign company owns all of theirs? Governments motivated by funding and industrial growth sell water resources to Nestle but ignore the harmful effects on their communities.
If you really want to help Muslims in developing countries, boycott Nestle. Don’t buy Nestle water bottles, which include Nestle Pure Life, Poland Spring, Arrowhead and Crystal Geyser. Let your work, masjid, and favourite restaurant know why they should stop selling Nestle water bottles. Don’t drink the water bottles at these establishments (I’m happy to see recycling cans at masjids, but it hurts my eyes to see Nestle water bottles in them). Lastly, boycott other Nestle products which include but are not limited to, Perrier, CoffeeMate, Carnation, TollHouse, Gerber, Dreyers, and Haagen Dazs.
It’s time for BDS II: the Nestle Edition. Western Muslims are instrumental in procuring a change in Muslim countries. We are organized, communicative, and resourceful, and we know we owe our less privileged brothers and sisters attention and funds in exchange for the comfort we are blessed with. Prioritize fair water resourcing on your list of charity projects. Like oil and blood diamonds, water is simply the latest resource being manipulated from Islamic and developing countries by Western countries. Nestle is a consumer-driven company that is motivated by sales. If we stop buying, or stop drinking, they will listen.
References and further reading:
- Nestlé: don’t bottle Nigerians’ water in a catastrophic water crisis!
- Over 215,000 Demand Nestlé Stop Draining Poor Villages in Pakistan for Bottled Water