The COVID-19 crisis shows why access to water is paramount — people denied water are denied cleanliness, increasing their risk from diseases caused by the coronavirus and other germs. That’s why in honor of World Water Day, March 22nd, we advocate for access to water for our own survival and the preservation of our sanitation and healthcare systems.
In Flint, Michigan and other municipalities in the US, activists have convinced cities to agree that water services will not be turned off during the coronavirus outbreak. Such initiatives to ensure access to clean water are happening globally as well.
People have a right to water because it is impossible to live without water. When water is privatized, and the “right to profit” from water is elevated over the human right to water, time and again we see access denied to people with less money, and further denied to minority ethnic or religious communities.
Just as the privatization of health care has weakened public health and made epidemics both more possible and more dangerous, the privatization of water does the same by depriving people of a basic necessity for life.
Hesperian has created resources to help people protect their right to clean water — our Water for Life booklet explains how to improve and protect water sources, make water safe for drinking, and organize water projects to improve community health. We expand on these topics in A Community Guide to Environmental Health, discussing strategies for water purification and watershed management.
We demand that people everywhere have the right to water security, promoting their ability to stay healthy during this disease outbreak and after the current crisis fades.