By Luis E. Tuninetti
Last March the “Water Day” was celebrated all over the world and the IV World Water Forum was held in Mexico City, at the same time the International Forum in Defense of Water was held, in which more than 700 activists from social movements, organizations, and communities that fight around the world for the defense of water.
The future of water depends on everyone
On March 23, the "Water Day" was celebrated all over the world and in Mexico City the IV World Water Forum, held from March 16 to 22 in Mexico City in which members of governments, specialists on the subject and members of environmental organizations participated, in parallel from March 14 to 19 the International Forum in Defense of WaterMore than 700 activists from social movements, environmental organizations, indigenous communities and networks that fight around the world for the defense of water worked there. In their final statement they stated that “ water is a common good and its access is a fundamental and inalienable human right, and that water is not a commodity. For this reason, it rejects all forms of water privatization, claims that management and control must remain in the public sphere, and demands the exclusion of the WTO, and of other international free trade and investment agreements, both bilateral and multilateral. , of the water".
The global situation
In a recent UNESCO report (Second World Report of the United Nations on the Development of Water Resources in the World) states that "The global crisis of water resources is to a large extent a crisis of the administration and government systems, which are the ones that determine who, when and in what way gets what water, and decide who has the right to access to water and Related services, restriction of political rights and civic freedoms, corruption and slow reforms further exacerbate the problem”Quotes the report. The data is worrying:
- 1.1 billion people do not have adequate access to drinking water.
- 2.6 billion people in the world's poorest countries lack basic sanitation facilities.
- In 2002, diarrheal diseases and malaria killed an estimated 3.1 million people.
- The UN estimates that 1.6 million lives could be saved each year if they were given access to clean water and hygienic facilities.
- The difference in consumption between first world countries and the rest is abysmal, about 20 times more than the other on average, but a US citizen uses 600 liters a day on average, while in Africa it does not reach 10 liters.
- In 2005, water scarcity caused ten times more deaths than all the wars put together on the planet in the same period.
- It has been established that governments must allocate 14 dollars of their income in health measures for every dollar that they stop investing in providing drinking water to their inhabitants.
- 20% of the planet's species have become extinct or are in danger of extinction due to lack of water or the presence of contaminated water.
- Water quality has declined considerably in several regions of the world in recent years, leading to deterioration of ecosystems and freshwater plant and animal species, in addition to consequences for the population, such as Lake Chad, in Africa, whose water volume has decreased by 90 percent since 1960 due to overgrazing, deforestation and the implementation of vast irrigation projects incompatible with the environment.
- More than 100 countries share rivers and hydrological basins, most of them lack rules and agreements for the good management, preservation and distribution of water.
The United Nations has established a goal for 2015 to halve the number of inhabitants of the planet deprived of basic sanitation facilities, although this objective seems utopian when projections establish that in 20 years two thirds of the world's population will not have access to the liquid, product of the waste that humans make of this precious resource.
The richest countries are preparing, but they are not doing it by rationing or using technologies that increase reserves, but by privatizing water, the main discussion that took place in the two meetings.
Those who oppose it warn that the interest in commercializing water is enormous (some already call it blue gold), they also denounce the intention to end the notion that water is a right and a state obligation to provide it.
First world companies and governments want to develop systems for the international transportability of the product (cross-border pipelines, containers, tankers, etc.); In other words, promoting the global water market, of course, whoever can pay the most will establish the rules.
Opponents of privatization made it clear that institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank use their resources to transfer services to private managers, bring rates closer to international levels, and boost the global water market.
Putting a market price on a good that is essential for life would mean leaving the management of the vital element in few hands and in international water companies that operate in the world market with the sole objective of maximizing their profits.
The defenders of the privatization of water justify themselves saying that it is not the water that is being privatized, but that it is the tendering of projects such as the construction of aqueducts and sanitation plants.
The upcoming armed conflicts over water
Before such statistical figures, there are many analysts who indicate that we will soon begin to observe armed conflicts over water, called the "hot spots" of water on the globe, the main ones are: Middle East, the Nile River that crosses ten African nations : Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Eritrea. Other regions in conflict are the countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, coastal states of the Syr Daya, a tributary river of the Aral Sea Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, share the Mekong River affected by the decrease in overexploited fishing resources; the Indus River plunges India and Pakistan into a state of permanent military tension.
In Latin America, the Guaraní Aquifer shared by Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, is one of the largest underground water reservoirs in the world, found in the subsoil of an area of around 1,190,000 square kilometers (surface greater than those of Spain , France and Portugal together), many believe that the North American presence in the area is due to a strategic issue of water rather than to an alleged terrorism control.
Finally, if we want to avoid the wars and invasions that oil has already caused, we should learn to share this precious resource, in addition to using it correctly.
What can we do?
Beyond being attentive to the policies used by governments with respect to water and actively participating in this regard, everyone in our daily lives can implement actions aimed at caring for this precious resource:
1. Report the water leaks from the street and the deficiencies in the supply to the corresponding agency in the locality.
2. Repair facilities that are losing water: one drop per second is 30 liters a day.
3. When it comes to buying appliances, try to achieve low water consumption.
4. Use the shower instead of a bathtub: 30 versus 100 liters respectively.
5. Close the faucets while you lather, brush your teeth and shave.
6. Wash the car with a bucket and not with a hose: 60 compared to 500 liters respectively.
7. Water the garden and plants only twice a week, preferably at night.
8. Do not use the hose to wash the floors of the sidewalks and do it as few times as possible since it is only an aesthetic question.
9. Use the washing machine with the maximum load of clothes.
10. Avoid pouring anything other than water down the drain.
11. When defrosting food, do not do it under water, it is wise to remove it from the freezer the day before.
12. Consume recycled or recyclable products, since a lot of water is saved in the process.
13. Consume seasonal, organic and local fruits; intensive production requires large amounts of water for irrigation, in addition to using pesticides.
* Luis E. Tuninetti
Eco Site Director