Currently there is a rush to privatize water services around the world. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are pushing for the privatization of water services by European and U.S. based companies through stipulations in trade agreements and loan conditions to developing countries.  This has grave global implications, especially for the those living in poverty.

The practices of mining and extractive industries have a terrible negative impact on the environment in general and water resources in particular.  Emerging new practices such as mountaintop removal and fracking have increased that impact exponentially.  As CND we have named mining as a priority issue through the work of the Social Justice Network and JPIC.  We have always identified the over-use and contamination of water associated with mining as a serious concern.  

Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights.  After over a decade of grassroots organizing and lobbying, the global water justice movement achieved a significant victory when on July 28, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to affirm "the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights."  The resolution, put forward by Bolivia and co-sponsored by 35 states, passed overwhelmingly with 122 states voting in favor and 41 abstaining.       Abstaining countries include:  Canada, Japan, and the United States.

Facts:  Water

  • Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water. Some 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diarrhea.
  • Lack of water is closely related to poverty: Almost two in three people lack access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
  • Each year, more than 3.5 million people die from diseases spread by contaminated water. The lack of access to water killed more children annually than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.  One of every eight people lack access to drinking water, and each day, women spent more than 200 million hours on transporting water.

Facts: Sanitation

  • 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation.
  • Lack of sanitation is a serious health risk and an affront to human dignity. It affects billions of people around the world, 40 per cent of the world’s population, particularly the poor and disadvantaged. If the trend continues as currently projected, by 2015 there will be 2.7 billion people without access to basic sanitation (World Health Organization).
  • More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.

As Vandana Shiva writes in Water Wars, “The water crisis is the most pervasive, most severe, and most invisible dimension of the ecological devastation of the earth.” Maude Barlow, the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians and the co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, states, "Governments around the world must act now to declare water a fundamental human right and prevent efforts to privatize, export, and sell for profit a substance essential to all life. Research has shown that selling water on the open market only delivers it to wealthy cities and individuals. The finite sources of freshwater (less than one half of one per cent of the world's total water stock) are being diverted, depleted, and polluted so fast that, by the year 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will be living in a state of serious water deprivation."