Yesterday was United Nations World Water Day and there was plenty in the news about the ongoing challenge of providing clean water. We are reminded that at least 800 millions people, the majority in developing nations around the world, don't have access to clean water. It may actually be twice that number.
Canadians brag about how much fresh water we have, regularly over-estimating how much of the world's supply is contained within our borders. We have some of the largest lakes on the planet within Canada, or we share them with the United States.
The wonderful reality is that we can turn on the tap and expect the water which flows to be immediately drinkable. We can bathe in it and use it for a variety of purposes.
The exception to this is for First Nations where, as the image above suggests, about three quarters do not have access to contaminant-free water. Although this graphic is several years old, boil-water orders are still in effect across the country.
I certainly believe that as a wealthy nation Canada should be involved in water projects in developing nations as an aspect of foreign aid. It must also be a high priority to get our own house in order. There is growing concern that the Federal government is distancing itself from this responsibility for clean, safe water on First Nations by contracting with for-profit, private companies to provide it.
There was an interesting letter to the editor in the Globe and Mail newspaper yesterday:
Inter-denominational organizations such as KAIROS have been raising concerns about First Nations water issues for years, as a matter of justice, and I'm glad that our United Church is part of this coalition.