Which comes first: Internet or Water?

Today, 15 October 2010, is BLOG ACTION DAY. This is an initiative where thousands of bloggers are invited to blog about a particular global issue on a specific day in the year. There have been different themes in the few year’s of its existence ranging from poverty to climate change. This year, the focus is on the WATER CRISIS.

One of the topics of the water crisis which has really caught my eye is the concept of having the access to safe and clean drinking water a fundamental human right. And by that, water and sanitation would be a basic requirement that the government of every country should provide along with infrastructure, education and other basic needs. The affect of poor sanitation which is linked to lack of drinking water and proper sewage facilities, kills an estimate of about 1.5 million children under the age of five and contributes to 443 million lost school days. So you see, the lack of this right has a ripple effect on other sectors like education.

When I was reading about this topic as indicated on an article I received on the latest Blog Action Day newsletter, I immediately remembered something my Public Policy lecturer mentioned during my previous academic year. I think we were talking about poverty and government policy that day, which is a topic I have been following closely for the past two years. I remember him ranting about some news from Africa where one man requested that Internet be made a fundamental human right. The idea was new to me but as I conducted research on it I realised this has already been investigated by developed and developing countries. A BBC survey held this year found out that:-

87% of internet users felt internet access should be the “fundamental right of all people”.

More than 70% of non-users felt that they should have access to the net.

Now besides the obvious problems of…

  • Getting free and smooth internet access to certain rural areas which may not have electricity
  • Getting ISPs to provide access in areas that are outside of their geographical policy
  • Deciding on what kind of speed and connection should be available as a right
  • Determining level of state censorship of content on the Internet
  • Determing regulation or policy on the usage of public Internet access

…I venture to ask “How can we discuss such an option when our governments and policy makers can’t even sit down and agree on the basic human right of water and sanitation?”

Policy makers should be aware of the interlinking relationships between one commodity and another which as years go by are becoming more positively correlated. We cannot dismiss the effects of lack of water and sanitation on other factors. Funnily enough, bloggers are using the internet to spread this campaign. So the question remains: Which comes first, Internet or Water? Communication or health? I’d say communicating health, whether through the Internet or through proper sanitary facilities.

And as I end this blog, I leave you to enjoy this humorous article of how an uncontacted Amazon tribe got internet connection in their area. Amazing.

Happy BLOG ACTION DAY 2010.

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