How a water tap became a wake-up call – or why not everything that glistens is gold.
2013 was the International Year of Water Cooperation – three years after the UN had officially decided that every human has “the right to safe drinking water”. I myself have had this incredible privilege since the late 1980s. Back then, I arrived at the SOS Children’s Village in Imst/Tyrol as a child from Burundi and for the first time in my life I drank crystal clear, completely clean water from a normal tap. This was a moment that left a lasting impression on me.
To this day, I like telling this story to children often in presentations on our school projects. As soon as for example, the water production project in the SOS Children’s Village Mombasa is mentioned, where even water bottles with an Imst label have been in production for a few years now, this story comes to mind and third and fourth graders are completely fascinated by it….
When I look back on how I kept turning the tap on and off, how I held my hands underneath the cold, glistening flow of water and how I would then drink it – just like that. Without the fear of contracting illnesses, without having to wait in long lines, without being in a rush because of a tank that was almost empty. Clean, clear, fresh. The taste, the smell, the sound, the feeling – the water in Imst was like a revelation to me. Africa, on the other hand, seemed dried-out and hopelessly poor in terms of water…until I heard more and more about countless springs of water including an incredible discovery in Namibia where researchers had found a massive fresh-water source underground just a few meters beneath the desert.
Then it became clear to me: Africa is unbelievably wealthy. Water is gold! International corporations and companies have known this for quite some time. Licence trading for African water sources is a thriving business – supposedly for both parties. From time to time you read in newspaper articles or in press releases about the African economy continuously growing in connection with this. Yet I ask myself: does the individual African actually profit from this? If so, why do thirst, starvation and poverty still exist?
Find out more in my next blog entry….”WATERs-GATE Africa II