Water—On Women’s Burdens, Humans’ Rights, and Companies’ Profits – Monthly Review

Water is a basic human need. There is no life without it.  The UN and other humanitarian organizations have worked years to bring critical consciousness to those of us who have rarely if ever been without water. For many, the availability of water every day is invisible, as expected as sunrise. And if we’re out, we think nothing of stopping at a convenience store and purchasing it.

In an article from the Monthly Review by Zuhal Yeşilyurt Gündüz, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Baskent University, she illuminates in very clear and understandable language the impacts of the commercialization and privatization of water. The US/EU economics vs. the UN and Human Rights. Public vs. Private. And the extreme effects this is having on the women and their families — those who live in the poorest countries.

  • 884,000,000 people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water
  • More than 2.6 billion people (or 40 percent of the global population) do not have access to basic sanitation services
  • Every year, 3.5 million people die from water-related diseases
  • Diarrhea caused by lack of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and poor health and nutritional status, is the second most important cause of death among children under five
  • Around 1.5 million children die of diarrhea each year
  • Every twenty seconds, a child dies from a water-borne disease such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, guinea worm, and hepatitis

Water is now, first and foremost, a commodity, and the public ownership of water is the major block to the massive profits that can be gained through privatization by large neo-liberal conglomerates who see water as the “twentieth century oil.”

After a bottled water company opened a plant in Java/Indonesia in 2002, it consumed such a high amount of spring water, only twenty meters away from the region’s main water source, that farmers had less and less irrigation water, and their wells started to run dry. Several farmers lost their livelihood and had to stop farming. Coca-Cola, after exploiting the groundwater reserves, turned parts of Kerala/India into a desert. Entire rivers have been sold in India. (emphasis mine)

Read this excellent article by Zuhal Yeşilyurt Gündüz, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Baskent University (Ankara/Turkey).

Water—On Women’s Burdens, Humans’ Rights, and Companies’ Profits – Monthly Review January 2010, v62 n8.

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