At 8th World Water Forum, Activists Call for Access to Clean Water for All

Erileide Domingues of the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe, pictured in a March 18 photo in Brasilia, Brazil, went to the Alternative World Water Forum to denounce agro-toxins in her community's drinking water. (Credit: CNS photo/Lise Alves.)
Erileide Domingues of the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe, pictured in a March 18 photo in Brasilia, Brazil, went to the Alternative World Water Forum to denounce agro-toxins in her community’s drinking water. (Credit: CNS photo/Lise Alves.)

Erileid Domingues said most of her indigenous village has, at one time or another, fallen ill due to contaminated water.

Domingues said her village in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul is surrounded by large soybean and corn plantations that use agro-toxins in their crops, which eventually seep into the soil and make their way into the waterbeds, contaminating rivers and wells used by her Guarani-Kaiowa tribe.

“Our fish have become contaminated; we can’t grow a vegetable garden because the water is also bad,” she told Catholic News Service. “Days after small planes spray the plantations, water from our wells turns milky white and remains that way for several weeks. Many of us suffer from chronic stomach pains and allergies.”

To tackle the question of global access to clean water, hundreds of experts, policymakers, nongovernmental groups and members of civil society came together for two water forums held in mid-March in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia.

Access to clean water is a fundamental right and must be a global priority, said Catholic leaders present at the 8th World Water Forum and the Alternative World Water Forum. Catholic representatives spoke about the need to find ways to create a sustainable supply of fresh drinking water for all, especially the poorer populations around the world.

“We have a mission,” said Monsignor Bruno-Marie Duffe, secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. “The church has the responsibility to protect human rights, to protect the poorer communities, and this also includes being able to make sure these populations have access to clean water.”

Duffe attended the official forum. He said that, although the Holy See recognizes the enormous contributions of local communities and civil society, it is also important to listen to policymakers and politicians and to encourage them to look closely at the water issues and invest in improving sanitation and water, even in the poorest and most remote regions of the globe.

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SOURCE: Lise Alves
Catholic News Service