Apr 4, 2005
On World Water Day, March 21, the United Nations reported on the situation regarding water in the Third World countries. Two and a half billion people, over a third of the world's population, do not have access to drinkable water. In 26 countries, the lack of water is a daily worry, and the U.N. projects that this number will double by the year 2050.
For billions of people, water is not the source of life, but rather a potential source of death. More than eight million people, half of them infants, die each year from diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which are transmitted by dirty water. Poor water is also one of the causes of malnutrition given that some 70% of water is used in agriculture. It is even a leading cause of illiteracy, as children who have to go miles each day in search of water have little time for schooling.
The world council on water declared that it is impossible for there to be real economic development without solving the problem of access to water. Everyone agrees, but there has been no action on the question. In fact, between 1997 and 2002, public aid for the provision of water was cut in half, from 2.7 billion dollars to 1.4 billion.
The president of the world council on water criticized companies and governments that finance projects to create an infrastructure for portable phones in the Third World rather than an infrastructure for the delivery of drinkable water. But that is the logic of a system that, in a sea of misery, remains preoccupied with making profits from what it can sell. This system is incapable of meeting the basic needs of people who don't have money to pay.