Lack of Water Remains a Global Crisis: A Question of Stewardship

On Sunday, March 21, World Water Day was celebrated to raise awareness of the global water crisis. In his Sunday remarks, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, made a plea for people the world over to be more responsible in the protection and use of water, as clean water is denied to an estimated 2.2 billion people around the world. The pontiff reminded us that water should not be considered a commodity to be bought and sold, but a valuable gift in which everyone should have access as a fundamental human right. The pontiff observed that “without water, there would have been no life, no urban centers, no agriculture, forestry or livestock,” and yet the world and its people have not exercised good stewardship over this fundamental and essential gift to the planet. “Wasting it, disregarding it or contaminating it has been a mistake that continues to be repeated even today,” he said.

The Holy Father asked how in our age of technological advances, “access to safe, drinkable water is not within everyone’s reach.” Referencing his apostolic letter, Laudato si, Pope Francis reminded us that “access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, a condition for the exercise of other human rights.” He went on to say that water is a gift to which all human beings, without exception, have the right to have adequate access, so that they can lead a dignified life. Thus, “Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.”

Pope Francis concluded his message by calling for urgent action to end the global water crisis: “Let us make haste, therefore, to give drink to the thirsty. Let us correct our lifestyles so that we do not waste or pollute. Let us become protagonists of that goodness that led St. Francis of Assisi to describe water as a sister ‘who is very humble, and precious and chaste!’”

Water is a gift that connects every aspect of life. Access to safe water and sanitation can quickly turn problems into potential, contributing to improved health for women, children, and families around the world. What is vital is how we respect and value this gift.

Here are a few ways we can expand our consciousness about the value of water.

Keep yourself informed on the global clean water crisis. Once we become aware of water access issues around the globe, we will better appreciate the need to take action to ensure we aren’t misusing the gift of water that we consume. Challenging and changing our water habits is an easy way to notice the impact we are having on water consumption.

Be mindful of the ways you use water While we shouldn’t give up drinking water each day, consider the small ways you waste water on a daily basis and then cut back. For example, turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Watch the water you consume while washing or rinsing utensils, glassware or pots and pans. Reduce the amount of water used while taking a shower A 10-minute shower uses at least 25 gallons of water. Try to reduce your shower time by a few minutes. One source recommends keeping your shower time down to two songs.

Repair leaks in your house. One environmental researcher suggested that a typical household loses thousands of gallons of water each year due to ordinary leaks in faucets, pipes and garden hoses. Take time to make needed repairs. You’ll save water and money along the way.

Reduce water consumption in home appliances. Dishwashers and washing machines use a lot of water. Consider making sure those washers are full before doing a load of laundry or dishes.

Include nonprofits that provide clean water in your charitable giving There are a number of widely known nonprofit organizations that have made it their mission to address this global clean water crisis. Check out these nonprofits and prayerfully consider adding them to your list of charitable beneficiaries.