It’s only water

It’s blog action day today, and the theme is water. By the end of the day, hundreds, maybe thousands, of bloggers will have blogged about water. A new statistic will have been created, perhaps a world record broken! Sadly, by the end of the day, another statistic will also be true: 4000 children under the age of 5 will have died needlessly because of a lack clean water and decent sanitation. Tomorrow, when blog action day is over, another 4000 will die. And the next day. And the next. That’s 28,000 children a week, 1.4 million a year. More than die from AIDS, malaria and measles combined. Each one an individual, each one with potential, each one made in the image of God. And each one a preventable death.
 
It’s an obvious thing to state, but water is one of life’s few true essentials. We can’t survive without it. For those of us living in richer countries, it’s easy to forget this fact. We simply turn on the tap and it’s there, in abundance. We have an apparently unlimited supply. For those living in poverty, it’s not so easy to forget. For the 900 million people who lack access to clean drinking water, it’s a luxury far out of reach. It’s an essential they know far too well that they need, but lack of government action and poor management and stewardship of the earth’s resources mean it’s an essential they are denied. And the consequences reverberate across all areas of life and development. Health is perhaps the most obvious: in addition to the horrendous child mortality stats stated earlier, half of the developing world’s hospital beds are filled by people suffering the effects of dirty drinking water and poor sanitation. And education also suffers: time spent by girls walking miles in search of clean water, or time spent caring for family members who are sick, or being sick themselves, means time not spent in school.
 
The Bible talks a lot about water, both recognising its necessity for everyday life, and using it as a metaphor for deep spiritual truths. In Matthew we’re told that whether we gave a thirsty person a drink or not, will be a part of what defines us as a kingdom disciple. In Amos, water is used to describe a powerful image in God’s command to Israel to ‘let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’.
 
Lack of drinking water for the world’s poor has to be one of the greatest injustices of our time. An injustice that our God hates. To get involved in campaigning for change, visit tearfund.org/campaigning