WORLD Water Day (WWD) 2019 was celebrated last March 22. Very timely, considering the water supply problem going on in some parts of Manila and the drought in some regions. In Manila, it seems the water shortage problem was more of a management failure than lack of supply. Nonetheless, the panic caused by the shortage gave us a preview of what might happen in case faucets run dry.
Access to clean water is more than a consumer right. According to the United Nations, it is a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life. “The human right to water entitles everyone, without discrimination, to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use; which includes water for drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, and personal and household hygiene”, says the UN.
So is the unavailability of clean water for some Metro Manila residents a violation of human rights? I haven’t read or heard about that angle in the news. For now, the demand of affected consumers is just a refund or a waiver of their water bills during the time of water scarcity.
The shortage of water in Manila is temporary. But across the globe, billions of people live without safe, potable water. According to the U.N., 1.8 billion people worldwide drink water that is contaminated with feces and more than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.
There’s also a water supply and usage disparity. In rich countries like the United States, the average person uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water a day and Europeans uses about 50 gallons. Residents of sub-Saharan Africa uses a mere 2 to 5 gallons of water per day. The World Health Organization recommends 2 gallons per person daily to meet the requirements of most people under most conditions and around 5 gallons per person daily to cover basic hygiene and food hygiene needs.
How much water is available for human consumption? According to the UN World Water Day fact sheet , only 2.5 percent of Earth’s water is fresh. However, 68% of this water is locked in ice. The biggest use is for agriculture, which is around 70%.
Did you know that there is more water in the atmosphere than in all of our rivers combined? If all of the water vapor in our planet’s atmosphere fell as water at once and spread out evenly, it would only cover the globe with about an inch of water.
At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 30, is Earth Hour. Everyone is encouraged to turn off unnecessary lights for at least an hour. This event started in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 180 countries and territories worldwide. It is a movement that has achieved massive environmental impact, including legislation changes by harnessing the power of the crowd.