Niamh Kelly is from Dublin and has always been interested in environmental and development issues. She studied a Bachelors Degree in Zoology in UCD and completed a Masters in Wildlife Conservation in Scotland. her studies and curiosity for different cultures has led her to live and work in Africa, Indonesia and The Philippines. More recently, she has branched into teaching and now teach Biology and English to International students.
Water is a human right for Irish people, for ALL people. This basic human right is ignored and void in the existence of many. Access to drinking water and sanitation are not daily rituals for all around the world with 780 million having no access to it at all. Those of us that can access it, now are faced with payment.
Should you flush after you push? For us, no one gives a second thought to flushing the toilet, yet, for many this is a luxury. Put the kettle on again there, flush the toilet, refresh yourself in a shower, relax yourself in a bath, these are not the thoughts or statements that can be made in every home. People walk miles for their water; they carry the weight of their water and some, daily, pray for their water.
Living in The Comoros Islands an African country off the coast of Mozambique some years ago I experienced despicable tactics at the hands of the government and the use of water. As presidential elections loomed the government decided to turn off the water supply for a week. Their reasoning? To ensure that people voted their party back into power. Logical? Sensible? Understandable? No, to all of these questions, but powerful? Yes. The people of this baked African island were deprived of their human right, but this was not a new episode for them. For a week we collected rain water that fell so sparingly, it became our water to wash with, to drink and to cook. A cholera outbreak occurred in my village just a couple of miles outside the capital. Seven people died, the main reason; the hospital had no water to rehydrate their bodies after the loss of fluids. Upon entering a government building, a school or a cafe you had to dip your hands and feet in bleach before and after.
But this is not a story of woe, as I learned of the great adaptability of people, striving to get on with life, although the hardships presented obstacles, communities presented answers. This is a story of people working together, a story to promote our conscious use and graciousness for our accessibility to water Irish people have become more conscious about how they live and becoming more conservative with water usage now is no harm. The harm comes at the underhanded strategies of our government to enforce such ‘conscious living’ upon its people. The harsh implementation of charging for usage removes conscious choice from our conscious living. For many, the extra enforced cost of living may void their lives of sufficient hygiene as they too begin to pray for water, praying for the money to pay for this human right in our developed economy.
Water is a human right. Irish citizens, let the passion with which you believe this continue beyond our own coastal waters. Water is a human right, from the new mother in an overcrowded maternity ward in Manila, to the old couple at the end of their days in Oman, to the little boy on his two mile walk to school in Laos, to the doctor preparing for surgery on someone you know in Dublin. Some people are inhibited geographically to access clean water; yet, it seems that governments now are a stronger driving force of inhibition. This week in Detroit, Chicago 400 homes have had their supply turned off due to late bill payments. Governments identifying this limited resource as a commodity and not a public good are denying their people a basic human right and forcing more into poverty. Will the government pay the charges to wash their hands of this? Water is a human right, a belief that we cannot give up. Water is a human right, not a belief but a fact. Let the shame of this enforced charge pour over the heads of those in power and trickle down their spineless backs. While, the community of Ireland needs to be proud of their fight for human rights and ensure this fight does not end on our own shores, we are a global community. We know our human right, but how many experience that luxury? Water is now and always will be a human right!