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Water, water everywhere…(a hopeful postscript) July 29, 2010

Posted by contrapuntalplatypus in Environment, Nature, Saving the World.

A follow-up to my July 26 post about the Kalahari Bushmen’s struggle with the Botswana government for water.

Today, July 28, the UN passed a resolution declaring access to clean water and sanitation a fundamental human right. This might seem a no-brainer given that humans can live only a few days without water, but apparently some countries set about to to dispute this rather fiercely and water down the language of the resolution. (To my shame, one of those protesting most loudly and which later abstained from voting was my own. Presumably this was in the hopes of privatizing its water supply a few decades down the road – an idea I find utterly repugnant.)

Eventually it passed, thank goodness (fortunately for humanity’s collective common sense) with 122 nations voting for, none against and 41 abstentions. Canada, the UK, the US and Australia all abstained, as did – surprise, surprise – Botswana.

This resolution is very good news for the Bushmen. Sure, it’s non-binding, but any country that actively works to deny its citizens water is going to look pretty bad in the eyes of the rest of the world, which has now collectively decided (by an overwhelming majority) that water is a universal human right. Other countries will now, presumably, have considerably more diplomatic leverage in condemning Botswana’s actions if it persists in denying the Bushmen water.

All this doesn’t mean, of course, that we can sit back and Botswana will simply re-open the borehole that the Bushmen depend on. But it’s a good start.

(By the way, yesterday I picked up a copy of James Workman’s Heart of Dryness, a first-hand look at the Bushmen’s struggle and their techniques for survival in one of the most arid regions on the planet. It looks quite fascinating, so get ready for a discussion/review and another follow-up post! :D)

– Contrapuntal Platypus

P.S. Oh, and the “sanitation” part of the resolution: generally overlooked but equally important. I read today that more people in India, for example, have cell phones than have personal access to a toilet. What the heck?!?



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