Not only is water a fundamental necessity to survive, it is a basic human right, and it is our duty as leaders of the global community to ensure that every person has adequate access to a clean source. Although water is an integral part of everyday life, 1 in 9 citizens are without access to safe water. This issue is so vast that it seems to encompass almost every major issue of current global concern, including poverty, climate change, and even social equality and equity. WHO conducted a study in 2017 reporting that out of the 39% of our global population using a “safely managed sanitation service”, 3 out of 5 of them live in urban areas, thus showing a higher prevalence of unsafe water conditions in urban areas—which have been shown to have higher poverty rates—showing a correlation between poverty and unsafe water. Climate change is leaving entire populations without water due to droughts caused by extreme fluctuations in weather conditions. Pollution is leaving once viable water sources tainted with contaminants such as pesticides, microplastics, and dangerous parasites. Regarding water equity, girls are twice as likely to be responsible for collecting water for the household than boys, which often requires a commute, frequently preventing girls from participating in everyday activities, including attending school.
Germany firmly recognizes water’s undeniable participation in each of these issues and reiterates the importance of their swift resolution. As a nation with highly developed infrastructure, 100% of Germany’s citizens have access to an improved water source. This does not mean that Germany has put the topic to rest, as our participation in several multinational partnerships—such as the Right 2 Water, a European action group supporting economically accessible and safe access to water for every global citizen, nondiscriminatory of socioeconomic status—has shown Germany’s dedication to a globally comprehensive and collaborative solution. In providing affordable clean water, it is essential that we do not allow private corporations to distribute and therefore manipulate our water sources, as their motives are often further focused on profit rather than the equal distribution of one of our world’s most fundamental human rights. While private corporations’ direct involvement in water allocation is strongly discouraged, this does not mean that Germany also discourages NGOs, which can be a valuable asset. Non-Governmental Organizations, including the German-supported Water Integrity Network (a multinational organization ensuring that water is not being exploited and is sustainably managed), promote public involvement and often can help to fund and stimulate initiatives and research projects allowing nation’s government to support initiatives without the necessity to facilitate them. The funds and energy conserved can then be allotted for larger issues facilitated by the government. For example, the public sanitation and distribution of free water.
Alongside NGOs, it is crucial that we collaborate along international waters to create well-developed infrastructure, serving as the backbone for all future improvements in water quality. In nations with already-developed universal sources of water, a worldwide standard of inspection should be put in place with routine check-ins to ensure that distribution facilities are adequate, as diseases carried by inadequate water sources are a leading cause of death worldwide, and an estimated 3.5 million people die from water-related diseases. Fluoride and chlorine are widely used in developed nations to sanitize drinking water and should be made more accessible to water sources in developing nations. While infrastructure makes water accessible, there are many cases in which this is not an achievable goal in the near future despite the urgency of this issue. To provide support for developing areas in immediate need of water, a mobile source providing water for areas that might not have easy access to a clean source could be established. It could be supported by a nation’s local government, NGOs, or even as a collaboration with wealthier, developed nations. This might entail a large vehicle with water that can be distributed routinely throughout a community—not as the sole source of water, but rather as an emergency supply—and possibly could be equipped with medical supplies fit to treat common ailments in remote areas, including prevalent water-borne diseases and dehydration.
- Lily Kappa