Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Access to Clean Water Saves Lives

January 14, 2014

  Lauren Snell, CVUSA Volunteer

Water is a gift that sustains life and the dignity of creation.

Pakistani women fetching water

The Paul Simon Water for the World Act was signed into legislation in 2005 in order to improve hygiene, sanitation, and most importantly make safer drinking water available.

On August 1st, 2013, Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ted Poe (R-TX) reintroduced the Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2013 (H.R. 2901) to renew and build upon this landmark legislation. Still today 783 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion lack access to sanitation infrastructure. This bill would make sure the allocation of funding for safer water would reach those most in need, leading to several benefits like decreased conflict over one of the Creator’s  most precious gifts.

One obstacle that limits access to water is climate change. As temperatures rise, some water sources may dry up which compels communities to either spend more time on finding water or migrating entirely to find a more stable livelihoods and water sources. Moreover, in Fiji, where Columbans serve, farmers have been displaced due to the effects of climate change. Due to rising salty sea level rise, salt water has leaked into fresh water resources (salinization), leading to contamination of water sources used for drinking and crop irrigation.

Additionally, water extraction is a growing concern. Large corporations, such as bottled water companies and mining companies, are taking the bulk of water sources from local communities. These actions are some times referred to as water grabs. Affected communities are left without water for drinking, cooking, bathing and subsistence farming.

In his Caritas en Veritate in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI stated that:

It is necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination.”

We, as one human family, can see hope in the reintroduction of the Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2013. With a greater emphasis of reaching those who cannot compete for safe drinking water against rapid climate change and multinational corporations, we can show our support that access is a global right.

We cannot deny safe drinking water and sanitation to our brothers and sisters any longer. This essential gift can mentally, physically, and emotionally broaden our global communities’ potential. This is where our support is needed and where it should stay until the improved Water for the World Act is passed and those in the most isolated places can be reached with this ‘indispensable gift’ from God. Click here for an action alert for Water for the World.