Pope Francis speaks of “grave social debt” on World Water Day

Pope Francis has issued a call for justice on today’s World Water Day: that all people might receive the “primary, fundamental, and universal human right” of access to clean water.

Today marks the 29th anniversary of World Water Day and the second day of the 9th World Water Forum, taking place in Dakar, Senegal.

This international campaign strives to highlight the importance of fresh water,  for both the sustainability of our planet and to meet the vital needs of people around the world.

Currently, two billion people around the world do not have access to clean water – that’s almost 30 times the population of the UK.

As climate change continues to heat our planet, access to water is becoming increasingly difficult for communities across the world, with countless people walking as much as eight hours each day just to collect enough water to sustain their families.

Unable to work and unable to use the land to grow produce to live off or sell, lack of water makes a way out of poverty almost impossible, and additional crises of natural disasters, war, violence, and more has made the lives of many unimaginable for most of us.

Pope Francis raised the issue in a recent letter, saying: “The right to drinking water and sanitation is closely linked to the right to life, which is rooted in the inalienable dignity of the human person and constitutes a condition for the exercise of other human rights.”

He referred to the “grave social debt” the world owes to those without access to safe drinking water, particularly where water sources have been destroyed through pollution, conflict, climate change, and the abuse of natural resources.

Today, Pope Francis appeals to world leaders, politicians, campaigners, researchers, businesses – and each one of us – to make tackling water poverty a priority to “serve the common good with dignity, determination, integrity, and in a spirit of cooperation.”

He said:  “Our world is thirsty for peace, for this indivisible good which requires the effort and constant contribution of everyone and which is based, in particular, on the fulfilment of the essential and vital needs of every human being.”