Is clean water a basic human right?

Water – the essence of all life – it is being said, is soon to be reaching a critical time, with access to fresh, drinkable supplies rapidly becoming more of an issue for the world’s population.

Editors of the Public Library for Science Medicine recently wrote that “access to clean water, which is essential for health, is under threat”, in a somewhat alarming announcement.

Water’s necessity is obvious for many aspects of our lives. Not only for cooking and cleaning, but also for the production of food, textiles, building materials and construction, as well as sanitation and waste disposal.

The case for providing access to the world’s population runs far deeper than how we use water in our daily lives however, resounding its importance. The World Health Organization estimates that inadequate water is responsible for nearly one-tenth of the world’s disease, and six percent of all deaths could be prevented by universal access to safe drinking water.

In light of this shortage and the clear need for clean water, greedy companies are also rushing to privatize its supply, in what could magnify a dangerous situation for those most in need of this basic human right, and its right to life.

Highlighting this grave fact, Maude Barlow, senior adviser to the United Nations on water issues says that “right now, if you can’t pay for it [clean water] you die in many, many countries.” Speaking to the UN general assembly earlier this year, she also added that the number of children dying each year of water-borne diseases is greater than the number of deaths from “war, HIV/AIDS and traffic accidents combined”.

“Right to Water” statistics from the 2003 world health report say that more than 1 billion people do not have available sources of “clean drinking-water”. This means, disease, hunger and death, which will then lead to further problems for business, government and non-government organisations, economies and the resources of the earth on a whole.

Not providing this basic need and ensuring its access to the world’s population could clearly become a dire threat to humanity as we know it.

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