Check Your Water Privilege
By Ainsley Jackman, Grade 12
Despite the growing conversation around water scarcity, most of the developed world has only an abstract idea of what it looks like in day-to-day life. To us, “water scarcity” means a summer of brown lawns and unwashed cars amidst a California drought. So--hardly anything at all. Clean drinking water is something we take for granted in even the worst of times but is a privilege much of the world goes without.
Western Libya is a current hotspot of water scarcity. Contaminated water is the worst killer of the Libyan Civil war, as many power and water control systems have been damaged and destroyed by the violence. United Nation Children’s Fund spokesperson Mustafa Omar recently shared that almost four million Libyans lack safe drinking water, worsening the rampant and deadly spread of diseases like Cholera and Hepatitis A.
Clean water has become such a valuable resource that in some areas it is being used as a weapon of war. Last April, revolutionary leader Hasan Al-Gaddafi initiated a water cut to gain leverage while bargaining for his captured brother. Following his lead, armed groups forced water workers to shut off the supply of nearly two million people for two days in a ploy to release a relative of their own.
For these people, water is no casual necessity that can be found for free in any public restroom. It is a commodity to be bargained for, a life-source many struggle daily to find--while our survival is practically a guarantee. Hydrating our bodies is a mindless nuisance before we can get on with the rest of our lives.
Here is your reminder that everyone is not so fortunate. Day-by-day survival is not a life most of us can comprehend, but doing our best to imagine it might lend more powerful meaning to the term “water scarcity.”