Water and the right to life

Water and the right to life

“Of the total water in the world, only 2.75% is sweet and, therefore, suitable for human consumption. Some 31% of the drinking water sources available in the world are in Latin America. However, in this region, 37 million people do not have access to drinking water and 110 million suffer from the lack of sanitation ”.

"Let's wake up! Let's awaken Humanity! There is no time. Our consciences will be shaken by the fact that we are only contemplating self-destruction based on capitalist, racist and patriarchal predation. ”

Berta Cáceres

In July 2010, the UN recognized the human right to water and sanitation, also reaffirming that water is the essential source for the realization of all human rights. The statement provides evidence: without water there is no life.

Of the total water in the world, only 2.75% is sweet and, therefore, suitable for human consumption. However, in this region, 37 million people do not have access to safe water and 110 million suffer from the lack of sanitation. It is estimated that the Latin American territory will be one of those that will suffer the most extreme events as a consequence of climate change - such as the rise in sea level -, which will mean salinization of deltas and marine intrusion into aquifers.

Water and women

Pollution and water scarcity are most felt by the people most exposed to its consequences, especially by women and girls who have to walk several kilometers to obtain it, by indigenous peoples who need it to exist as such and for peasants and peasant women who need water for their subsistence. Beyond this, the lack of sanitation generates the spread of infectious diseases that affects, above all, boys and girls. The populations have been demonstrating about the causes of these problems for a long time. This is exemplified in all the struggles called “water wars” that have as one of their most important symbols the popular revolt that took place in Bolivia between January and April 2000, which called into question the privatization of this common good. in the face of pressure from the World Bank.

Water as a community asset

According to the lawyer and specialist in International Law, Javier I. Echaide, the privatization of such assets –community understandable–, such as water, is unacceptable, not because it is impossible, but because the consequences applied on an individual scale are unfair, and the Possible consequences on a social scale are aberrant. The lawyer also states that the generation of exclusion rights - a consequence of the commercialization of any common good - is equivalent - in the case of drinking water as a fundamental element to sustaining life - to granting rights of life and death to those who use them. hold: too great a responsibility to be left free to the rules of the market.

Water and extractive activities

In the 1990s, a large part of the Latin American states developed a reform of the legal framework to facilitate and promote investments by companies that operate worldwide. Within this framework, there was an increase in the implementation of mining projects throughout the region. Mining activity is associated with the release of chemical components, such as cyanide and mercury. The sediments left by mining are incorporated into the hydrological cycle, contaminating surface and groundwater. This extractive-exporter model is the cause of various conflicts due to its polluting and colonizing nature - since the mining culture crosses the territories with its neo-developmentalist logic, changing the geography and destroying the economy and local customs.

Faced with the evidence that the governments are responsible for, the response was limited to focusing on "provision of more efficient, resilient and environmentally friendly services" and "achieving greater efficiency in the use of water." They say nothing about the dominant production model that pollutes with its pesticides, nor about the companies that use water for projects for capital accumulation purposes.

The search for infinite growth and development using finite and non-renewable resources runs into undeniable limits. However, from the side of the people there is the resistance in defense of life itself. In the daysSeptember 15, 16 and 17, the Catamarca Peoples in Resistance and Self-determination (PU.CA.R.A.) organize theI Latin American Water Summit. The objective is to create a Latin American network for the defense of Water for the peoples.


FILARDI, Marcos Ezequiel. The human rights to water and sanitation: inputs for a debate


SHIVA, Vandana. Water wars

Other sources:

- Photo by Sebastião Salgado.

Source: Virginia Bolten

Video: Importance of water for life. Chemistry of life. AP Biology. Khan Academy (October 2020).