Today, May 15, bloggers around the world are writing about human rights. This campaign, supported by Amnesty International, challenges bloggers everywhere to bring attention to human rights issues.
But rather than just write about a human rights issue, I want to talk about taking action to improve a human situation before it reaches a level that the world calls a catastrophe. When do conditions warrant being labeled an issue of human rights? When the world names it a “crisis”? I want to tell you about a situation in which people are being denied a basic human right simply because very few people know about their problem.
In the Azawak of West Africa one out of every two children die before the age of five because they lack a simple glass of water to drink. The people who live in this large region are largely ignored by their government and mostly forgotten by the rest of the world.
If the world does not yet know that there is a crisis, does that make it any less critical?
In the Azawak, girls as young as 10 years old journey distances as much as 35 miles in a day to retrieve water for their family. Yet often, the deep well they arrive at after hours and hours of travel in 120 degrees heat will be dry. They may wait a day at a crowded well, and finally fill their jerry cans with water, but it won’t be very much, certainly not enough to meet the needs of their family waiting at home, and all their small animals.
Yet water flows in the Azawak, deep beneath the ground. Too deep to reach by digging by hand, but there nonetheless. Because there is no infrastructure to reach these living waters, 500, 000 people living in the Azawak have no access to it.
Water is essential to life, and yet the people of the Azawak live their lives without access to that most precious and essential resource.
When does the lack of access to an essential resource become a crisis? When the world turns its head toward it? People who live without ready ability to get water, whether or not the world knows it, suffer.
Children living in the Azawak cannot go to school. They have no choice but to spend their time finding water. They cannot bathe because even if they have a little water they can’t afford to waste it on a bath. They suffer from diseases related to having no water. These children are dying.
There is hope...
Development organization Amman Imman: Water is Life has taken on a huge mission: to bring water to the Azawak by constructing permanent water sources – boreholes – which will provide the infrastructure desperately needed by the people in order to have water. We can’t wait for the world to turn its attention there. The people of the Azawak deserve a future.