SCNs Take Action
It’s a harsh reality in many parts of the world, young girls kept from school because they are forced to walk miles each day gathering water for cooking and cleaning, crops that dry up because of a lack of irrigation, and children who fall ill after drinking contaminated water.
UNICEF paints a stark picture when citing lack of sanitar
y water around the world. According to a 2009 article, almost 50 percent of the developing world’s population (2.5 billion people) lack adequate sanitation facilities and over 884 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens thousands of children every day and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities for thousands more.
UNICEF further notes that poor sanitation, water and hygiene, have many other serious repercussions. Children – and particularly girls – are denied their right to education because their schools lack private and decent sanitation facilities. Women are forced to spend large parts of their day fetching water. Poor farmers and wage earners are less productive due to illness, health systems are overwhelmed, and national economies suffer.
In March of 2007, SCNs spoke out about the right of each person to have access to water.
In a Corporate Statement, SCNs call on themselves and others to “support actions that ensure access to sufficient, safe and affordable water for all people, especially women and children in regions suffering currently from scarcity of water.”
SCN CORPORATE VOICE
We, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Family
affirm that water is a fundamental,
inalienable human right.
Earth’s freshwater is limited and essential
for a just and sustainable world.
Water, as a human right and a common good,
cannot be bought, sold or traded
as a commodity for profit.
Therefore, we will study and support actions and policies that:
- ensure access to sufficient, safe and affordable water for all people, especially women and children in regions suffering currently from scarcity of water;
- protect freshwater as a sustainable, renewable resource.
We will study and oppose actions and policies that:
- endanger/pollute the world’s supply of freshwater;
- deprive humans and other species access to adequate, safe water essential for life;
- privatize and commodify global water resources.
From this statement flowed SCN efforts to improve access to safe water for families around the world. In the fall of 2008, five water projects across India and Nepal were funded. The projects included wells, hand pumps, water tanks, water container filtration and education.
SCN family members across the Congregation joined local residents in making decisions and forging ahead with the hard work necessary to carry out the water projects. Numerous hands made lighter work of the manual labor that went into digging the wells in spite of obstacles that included waiting for the ground to dry, an abundance of stones, extreme heat, and lower than anticipated water tables.
Creativity in the form of drawings, essays, and street plays was plentiful as efforts were made to educate as many people as possible on topics ranging from waterborne diseases, to the efficient use of water, to steps to harvest water and improve sanitation.
Though not all projects are complete, improved access and storage for clean drinking water, the ability to irrigate land for crops, having water during the dry season, being able to filter water, and education on health and waterborne diseases have improved countless lives across India and Nepal.