Water is for life.
September 16, 2007 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Because water is a basic need for all life and good health, access to enough safe water, or water security, is defined as a human right by international law. [mostly pdfs]
posted by bigmusic (16 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Is this sort of a double? Or is this the kind of general topic thread where I can share my little survival tip that in a pinch you can collect water from the evaporation of your urine?

Seriously, though, water rights are a huge problem in the middle east, and a few not-completely insane theorists believe that part of the israeli palestine conflict revolves around water-rights issues.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:19 PM on September 16, 2007

Hi bigmusic. Thanks for the links. I worked for Hesperian for seven years, and you can find a lot of great stuff for free on the site. Or, since most readers of metafilter are pretty well-off first worlders, you could consider buying the books. They're easier to read that way and your purchase would help subsidize the free book program for people in poor communities.

I can add a bit more to this post too. The ongoing effort to reframe water access as a basic human right has met a lot of challenges. The author of the pamphlet that is your first link wrote a bit here about the struggle.

It's also worth mentioning a new book about water issues here and around the world.

Anyway, I'll forward this post along to the Hesperian crew. Cheers!
posted by serazin at 9:34 PM on September 16, 2007

I mentioned this in an AskMe thread earlier today, but I took the "multiple pieces" downloads of these books a couple months ago and assembled them wtih Acrobat Pro and gave them chapter bookmarks, etc.

Warning, self-link to PDFs:
Where There Is No Doctor
Where There Is No Dentist

I really wish the Hesperian Foundation would do the same with their downloadable books instead of making each chapter a separate file.
posted by mrbill at 9:38 PM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

mrbill, can you link me to the askme thread? It's not coming up on google yet.

They seperate the chapters to make them easier to download for people with slow connections (which is their primary 'market').
posted by serazin at 9:43 PM on September 16, 2007

Also useful is the NATO Emergency War Surgery Handbook handbook from the US Army Institute of Surgical Research.
posted by mrbill at 9:45 PM on September 16, 2007

Serazin, it was this AskMe thread about worms in someone's poo.
posted by mrbill at 9:47 PM on September 16, 2007

posted by serazin at 9:52 PM on September 16, 2007

caution should be observed toward international legislation of human rights regarding resources...
(insert global socialism riff here)
the end result of this will be a maximum number of people living on minimum water budgets, which may not be an optimum result for the people living this regime, other species or the earth itself.
(insert flames against bruce on selfishness/resource hog theme here)
posted by bruce at 11:30 PM on September 16, 2007

You forgot to link to DHMO.org...
posted by DreamerFi at 12:51 AM on September 17, 2007

Then tehloki popped in to say that thing again about how there's really just way too many fucking people and all we can do is put off the moment when we all start to die in large numbers.
posted by tehloki at 1:19 AM on September 17, 2007

Man, "Where there is no Doctor" is great. My mum's was very dog-eared from her time as a teacher in the Papua New Guinea Highlands -- it got much use.

It was fascinating reading for me as a youngster too: a first aid manual for when "call an ambulance" just isn't an option!
posted by Silentgoldfish at 3:21 AM on September 17, 2007

caution should be observed toward international legislation of human rights regarding resources...

Absolutely. Next thing you know, they'll be claiming that breathable air is a human right. That would unfairly restrict corporate opportunity to make a profit selling the stuff.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:21 AM on September 17, 2007

Water supply as a human right is a great way to substitute sentiment for economics. Water is a bought and paid for commodity like any other thing that is limited in supply and requires inputs of labor and equipment to produce and deliver.

When you look at places that have reliable and inexpensive water delivery systems, you'll find all different mixes of government and for-profit inputs, as well as differing levels of legal entitlement -- far too much diversity to say that any particular arrangement is optimal.

A lot of the public-private "debate" is silly, since it tends to occur in Third World context where current government funding sources (i.e., the tax base) are minimal. To reduce or eliminate the participation of private equity simply increases the amount of debt that must be brought into the capital structure -- and the source of that debt is the same private, First World capital markets as would supply the equity that is being refused, and the source of the repayment of the debt -- local ratepayers -- is the same source of return on the equity being refused.
posted by MattD at 7:54 AM on September 17, 2007

Word MattD. I can't find the source, but I'm reminded of an (I think economist) article that described how an African tribe fell to ruin after "liberating" their water supply, which was charged a nominal service fee that took care of the costs for treating the water. The result was that the now free water supply fell into disrepair and eventually became basically undrinkable.

Water, like all natural resources, should be seen as natural capital and must be valued, otherwise it will be squandered.
posted by dobie at 10:05 AM on September 17, 2007

Safe water is now a human right? Yay! Now no one will ever have to pay for it ever again!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:03 PM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Technology is the answer to the water problem. Look up Energy Recovery Inc. They were named Environmental Exporter of the Year, last year, and they've got this technology that now makes water desalinization incredibly energy efficient.
posted by lamarguerite at 9:35 AM on October 1, 2007

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