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Access to Water is a Universal Right

Access to clean safe water should not just be for a privileged few.

Drinking water has widely known health benefits. Water is essential for our body to be able to function. It helps regulate our body temperature, flushes out waste from our body, and ensures our brains are working properly, according to Healthline. After all, the average person’s body is made up of 60% water.  

Even though water is often considered a human right, according to the World Health Organization, there are still some people who don’t consider it a human right, and over 2.1 billion people worldwide still lack access to safe drinking water. This is largely due to the lack of properly managed sanitation facilities that many rural and poor communities use.

As the world faces a pandemic, we tend to forget that there are people in this world that have been dying due to poor sanitation and contaminated water even before the pandemic.

There is a huge misconception as to why poorer communities have a harder time accessing clean water. We would assume the reason is because the poor simply can’t afford formal water supplies, but according to Sarina Prabasi, WaterAid America chief executive, the poorest of the poor are paying almost half of their income for water.

A report done by WaterAid showed that in developed countries the standard water bill is as low as 0.1% for someone who works with a minimum wage salary. Now compare that to someone who is living in total poverty in Madagascar, that person would spend about 45 percent of their daily income on water.

The fact that water costs more for someone living in poverty than It does for someone who is wealthy or in the middle class is a hard pill to swallow. The reason this occurs is because several of these poorer communities don’t have access to a government-subsidized water source.

Can you even imagine not having enough money to pay for water, and having to rely on a nearby lake or pond — that may or may not be clean — as an alternative?

Children in India play at a water well built in their community, celebrating their refreshing, easy access to clean water. | Zakat Foundation of America photo

Remember the Flint Michigan Water Crisis in the United States? Residents in Flint, Michigan, started to notice a foul smell and a dark color in their water back in 2014. This was because officials looking to save money switched Flint’s drinking-water supply from the Detroit city system to the Flint River, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Residents experienced hair loss and skin rashes due to the increased lead levels that were shown in the water sampled. After several complaints from residents, and after going to court, the agreement was that the city must find and remove Flint’s lead and steel water lines before the end of this year.

It took seven years to fight for access to safe and clean water, and the problem is still ongoing.

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This crisis in Flint shows us the problem of not accessing clean water is not just a “third-world” crisis, but in fact a global crisis. It also should not be solely categorized as a crisis, because we have to keep in mind that this is a violation of our basic human rights. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only instance of water being jeopardized. 

The Dakota Access Pipeline in the US has also been in the news for quite some time. The Dakota Access Pipeline has carried oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation to market in other parts of the country since its commercial operations began back in 2017, according to The Duluth News Tribune.

This was an issue because the pipeline ran across on Native American reservation land and contaminated the water in Lake Oahe. That lake is a major source of water for the people who reside on that reservation. In both instances, we see how access to clean, safe water is harder for marginalized groups.

Access to clean safe water should not just be for a privileged few. 

Humanitarian organizations across the globe have been working to help ensure our basic human right is being given to us. Zakat Foundation of America, a Chicago-based humanitarian organization, has vowed to help build 100 water sources this month to help provide safe, clean water.  Please visit Zakat.org to find out how you can join them in building these water sources so that the foundation can reach their goal. 

Zakat Foundation of America supporters sponsored the digging and installation of 146 wells and hand pumps around the world in 2019 alone. The organization’s water sources serve about 36,500 people a day. Such is a charity whose blessings gush ever on into the eternal Hereafter.

No one deserves to die because of dehydration or dirty water. Let’s continue to fight for our rights.

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