Today is Blog Action Day 2010, the "action" global bloggers are invited to take is to promote awareness of global water issues: its scarcity, its contamination, its political and strategic significance in pressure points like Darfur and at the Israeli-Palestinian stand off. According to the U.N., almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water, and unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80 percent of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. According to Blog Action figures, "Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren't strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses." The U.N. predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented simply by improving water supply and sanitation.
While we're on the subject of hydration, another life-giving force is celebrated tomorrow, hence worth noting today: World Food Day. Taking note the global event at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI called out the overstuffed in the overdeveloped world where we get to maintain simultaneously gluttonous and stingy practices related to the global food supply. "Everyone – from individuals to the organizations of civil society, States and international institutions – needs to give priority to one of the most urgent goals for the human family: freedom from hunger. In order to achieve freedom from hunger it is necessary to ensure not only that enough food is available, but also that everyone has daily access to it: this means promoting whatever resources and infrastructures are necessary in order to sustain production and distribution on a scale sufficient to guarantee fully the right to food."
The pope called for short term aid aimed at immediate reduction of hunger-related misery but also emphasized long-term strategies and reforms aimed at restoring agricultural production and finally obliterating the problem of hunger. His message included useful reminders of the church's sense of "authentic human development," meant to complement a comprehensive understanding of human dignity within economic development versus a mere attention to responding to material want. As in previous papal statements on development, Pope Benedict reminded agents of development of the necessity to respect, even enhance the personal and cultural autonomy of people and communities who are the presumed beneficiaries of development efforts: "Individuals, peoples and countries must be allowed to shape their own development, taking advantage of external assistance in accordance with priorities and concepts rooted in their traditional techniques, in their culture, in their religious patrimony and in the wisdom passed on from generation to generation within the family."
Here's more about the U.N.'s "United Against Hunger" campaign cited by Pope Benedict.