As part of Hesperian’s work with the People’s Health Movement, Environmental Health Book Project Coordinator Jeff Conant has been organizing for Blue October, an international month of action to challenge corporate control of water and to protect water as a shared natural resource available to all. Human rights underlie all that we do at Hesperian, and we welcome the opportunity to engage with an ever-growing network of people and organizations to broaden the definitions of specific rights such as the Right to Health and the Right to Water. Hesperian is working with other organizations to develop frameworks to turn these rights from abstract concepts into a basis for popular action.
Behind the actions during Blue October is the common notion that access to safe, sufficient water is a fundamental right and should never be treated as a commodity. The past decade has witnessed an explosion of privatization of water concessions worldwide and consolidation of the ‘water marketplace’ by multinationals such as Suez, Bechtel, Coca-Cola, and Nestle. We have also seen tremendous growth in the market for bottled water in the global north despite the fact that public water utilities are, for the most part, perfectly adequate — and if not perfectly adequate, we should demand better service rather than pay twice for what is rightly ours! This trend, paying twice for our most basic necessity, exposes the slippery slope towards allowing our most precious common resources to be taken out of our hands.
People around the world are resisting these corporate attempts to monopolize and privatize our water (see Hesperian blog entry July 21, 2006). Below are a few of the many actions planned for the month of October:
• The community of Mehdiganj in India will protest Coca-Cola Corporation’s abuse of public water for private profit at the Coca-Cola India headquarters in Gurgaon, India. • Nigeria’s Bread of Life Development Foundation will organize a Human Chain against water privatization in Lagos, Nigeria.
• In Bolivia, the capital city of La Paz’s will host theatre, dance, face painting with water drops and slogans, children’s games targeting enemies of public water.
• In the U.S., Corporate Accountability International is organizing Tap Water Challenges and a National Day of Action to challenge corporate control of water as part of their “Think Outside the Bottle” campaign.
Learn more about these and other actions and participate in Blue October. If you are involved in Blue October activities in your own area, please add to this blog and help us build a bigger, stronger movement to defend the human right to water.