World Water Day is celebrated annually on March 22nd to raise awareness about the importance of water and its sustainable management. This day serves as a reminder that water is a precious resource that is essential for life and that access to clean water is a basic human right.
Water scarcity is a growing concern globally. According to the United Nations, 2.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring water shortages. Climate change (caused primarily by countries that will be least impacted by water insecurity) is exacerbating this problem, with changing weather patterns affecting water availability and quality.
Water is linked inextricably to humanity. Clean water and sanitation are linked to good health and are essential for preventing the spread of diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Without water, crops cannot grow, and hunger and malnutrition will get worse. Even our spiritual selves cry for water: Just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the Water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit [Catechism of the Catholic Church 694].
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis writes “… access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.” We have a shared responsibility for the responsible stewardship of our natural resources, for the common good of all people.
Here in Australia, we are often privileged enough to be isolated from the harshest realities of water inequality. But water transcends the boundaries of countries. In our globalised world, the by-products of our consumption and production are exported to poor people in other parts of the world. We owe a debt to those denied the basic right of water, from which all life stems, to show a curiosity to Australia’s impacts and contributions to water inequality.
UNICEF shares the following story of the Hummingbird:
One day in the forest, a fire broke out.
All the animals ran for their lives.
They stood at the edge of the blaze, looking at the flames in terror and sadness.
Up above their heads, a hummingbird was flying back and forth to the fire, over and over again.
The bigger animals asked the hummingbird what she was doing.
“I am flying to the lake to get water to help put out the fire.”
The animals laughed at her and said, “You can’t put out this fire!”
The hummingbird replied, “I’m doing what I can.”
We must be like the hummingbird, solving the problem one drop at a time. The actions we take, no matter how small will help solve the water crisis.
To learn more about ways you could contribute, visit https://www.unwater.org/bethechange/