The UCSB Human Rights Group is hosting a week-long series of events entitled “The Human Right to Water” to discuss access to clean water.
The activities, which began March 1, include film screenings and a discussion panel to address the global water crisis. Human Rights Group also plans to use the week as an opportunity to petition for the ratification of the proposed Article 31 in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which would formally make access to clean water a human right.
Second-year global studies major and event organizer Jessica Schulberg said “The Human Right to Water” hopes to draw attention to a social issue that results in thousands of deaths each year.
“My interest in this issue started out because I’m concerned about global issues, but I didn’t realize that people die every day of water-related diseases,” Schulberg said. “Only 4 percent of Africa’s fresh water is available as drinking water because of lack of infrastructure and wells. It’s not that there isn’t enough water to sustain all people. The issue is the way the global water supply has been distributed.”
Human Rights Group at UCSB advisor Nicolás Pascal said addressing the problems of access to clean water begins at a local level.
“If you ask me, access to clean water is already a human right. Locally, we have the responsibility to advocate recognition of this global reality,” Pascal said.
“Such movements begin by telling untold stories. [While] water rights issues are globally preeminent, Human Rights Group members at UCSB … understand that this issue has yet to find the audience it deserves here at home which is surprising, considering the significant domestic implications of this issue.”
The discussion panel, slated for March 8 at 7 p.m. in the MultiCultural Center, will examine the implications of the privatization of water and other issues concerning global water supply. The panel will include such experts as Scott Slater, a litigator and member of the Water Law Group, whose practice aids clients seeking to secure new water supplies.
Caitlin Scaife, a third-year political science and sociology major, said it is important for students to be educated on this issue.
“It would be important to attend to realize that being able to go to the sink and getting a glass of water is a privilege that millions of people don’t have,” Scaife said. “Not being informed about this issue, when it has such devastating consequences, is careless.”