Local is Global – Defenders of water rights and justice in your municipalities, your cities, your parliaments
By Saulo Araujo
March 23rd, 2009
By Nikhil Aziz.
Nikhil is reporting from the World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey.
One of the events organized by civil society during the corporate-driven World Water Forum in Istanbul was "International Day" on March 19th. Various members of the anti-privatization sector of the global water justice movement organized this in collaboration with Turkish civil society representatives. For example, Our Water Commons, the Trans National Institute, Food & Water Watch, and regional networks like Red Vida (Latin America) and the African Water Network.
The opening day of the World Water Forum (WWF) in Istanbul was emblematic of the undemocratic and unaccountable nature of the WWF. The WWF, like the World Economic Forum, is a virtual country club. Dominated by multinational corporations like Veolia and Suez, international financial institutions like the World Bank, and governments, it is run by an unelected body, the World Water Council (WWC), which charges exorbitant entry fees and goes further to silence opposition by nefarious means.
By Dory Dinoto
March 12th, 2009
With thanks in part to $80,000 dollars in generous donations made to Grassroots International in response to the Gaza Crisis, our partners in Palestine have begun the process of rebuilding their communities.
Sixty years after the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we at Grassroots International recognize that more often than not the reality has failed the vision put forth in that document. Our commitment to defending land, water, and food as the most basic of human rights is reflected throughout the 30-article treaty. Globally, people in all corners of the world currently experience a quadruple crisis that includes food, finance, energy, and the environment. From Latin America to the Middle East, our partners and allies are facing serious threats to their lives and livelihoods. Policies and actions of governments and corporations represent the grave violations of the core principles of the treat
Haiti's fight for basic human rights often finds its way into the Kreyol language's vivid and plentiful proverbs. Sak vid pa kanpe means that a hungry person cannot do anything – literally, an empty sack cannot stand up. Of the many root causes of the current food crisis that is rendering the poor majority of Haitians unable to feed them themselves, the lack of water rights is of utmost significance.
A focus group of Haitian woman in Port-de-Paix concluded that the water problem is what often causes massive hunger. They reported that the water problem is causing "people to die in its hands."
The construction of the Wall by the Israeli government in the West Bank is viewed by many as the third and final wave of expulsion of the Palestinian people, following the forced Palestinian exodus in 1948 in the wake of Israel's independence, and then the 1967 Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps, more than any other element of the occupation, the Wall illustrates the severity of the Palestinian situation and the urgency for access to resources, including water.
Brazil's northeast, with the biggest population of any arid region in the world, is home to many of the more than 10 million Brazilians who live without regular access to clean and safe drinking water. For years the people of the region struggled to survive with no help from national public policy makers. Now policy makers are pursuing two very different approaches to the problem of the northeast's water insecurity: a community driven, grassroots public policy that supports building low-cost cisterns to provide water to the families who need it most, and a top-down mega-project to redirect the São Francisco River through a massive series of dams and canals.
Friends and supporters of Grassroots International may be familiar with Hesperian Foundation, a non-profit publisher of community health education materials, best known for Where There Is No Doctor, recognized by WHO as "the most widely-used health manual in the world." With this month's publication of the long-anticipated A Community Guide to Environmental Health, Hesperian celebrates more than just the release of another book. It allows us all to celebrate and learn from the myriad ways in which people at the grassroots can and do take control over their own environmental health.
Maude Barlow – world-renowned water activist and author of Blue Gold – was recently awarded the Citation of Lifetime Achievement by the Canadian Environment Awards. Grassroots International was honored to have her as our keynote speaker for our 20th anniversary celebration, at which time we awarded her a global activist prize.
I'd like to take a minute to congratulate Maude, and to encourage you to read about her achievements over the past two decades. Thank you Maude for your inspiring leadership in the water justice movement and for struggling tirelessly (and joyfully) for water for all!