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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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March 24, 2006

World Water Day—everyday

At Starbucks earlier this week I saw the a bin of water bottles banded with blue labels, “World Water Day.” Then a release from Lutheran World Relief popped up on my e-mail, with the sober statistic that “more than 1.1 billion people worldwide are without access to safe drinking water—a figure that will likely grow to 3.3 billion by 2025.”

That’s hard to imagine for Chicagoans like me who live on the shore of Lake Michigan. Water, fresh water from “our” lake is literally a huge part of our lives. My morning walk takes me along the lake. We swim in it. We sail on it. We fish from it. We wash our cars. We take long showers. We water our lawns. We drink it.

The LWR report continues: “In many places, entire villages rely on a single well for water for drinking, cooking, personal hygiene, watering livestock. ... Women wake up as early as 1 a.m. to start drawing water so they can collect enough for their daily needs. Water access in some areas is so difficult that young girls are forced to abandon school to help their mothers...”

I’ve been in a village like that, three years ago in Malawi. And I reported about the difference it makes when this village got a water pump, with materials and expertise provided by Lutheran development staff but the labor by the villagers themselves. It not only lessens the women’s toil but clean water cuts down on much sickness.

World Water Day—March 22 each year—grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Just last month the World Council of Churches urged members and ecumenical partners “to work together to preserve and protect water resources against over-consumption and pollution” and issued a statement that defined water as an “integral part of the right to life.” But one denied to many.

So the observance is “over” for this year. But can we let that be? Shouldn’t every day be a water day for our thirsty world?

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