Just water?

As we prepare ourselves to become fully entrenched in “summer mode,” I have begun to make preparations of the things my family will need this year, which includes, sun screen, insect repellent, swimsuits, lounge chairs, and water bottles.

We often look for water, an essential resource especially during these hot summer months. I realized how this natural resource is taken for granted in our daily lives, yet it is crucial for our existence.

In different parts of the world, access to clean drinking water is a luxury and often people, especially women and girls, walk several miles to find it. This is true of El Salvador. Our SEW woman have also faced similar hardships in accessing clean drinking water. During my childhood, I visited a rural part of El Salvador and walked towards the river. While I was there, I witnessed many women and children gathering water, bathing, fishing, and washing clothes. All these activities were occurring at the same time. Though a child, I remember thinking that I could not imagine having to drink water from that same river.

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Though rural parts of El Salvador are trying to make advances in water sanitation and access to clean drinking water, there is still a long road. El Salvador's Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources state that 90 percent of the surface water is contaminated by agricultural runoff and deficient sewage processes. In addition, some advances that are made in water sanitation are often hindered by human activity, particularly those of international corporations and industries, which further contaminate the environment.

Mining in El Salvador has been a big reason behind water contamination. It was estimated by National Geographic that some of the these corporations, such as the Pacific Rim Mining Corp., use as many 900,000 liters a day for their industries, while it would take about 30 years for a Salvadoran family to use this amount of water. The statistics are staggering. Corporations have little regard for the long term effects on the natural resources and have violated the rights of the local communities. Environmental activists who have spoken out have often been threatened, and some even killed for work.

Most recently, the corporation of Coca Cola has been accused by Salvadoran activists of contaminating water in municipality of Nejapa, in northern El Salvador. It is estimated that 30,000 people have been affected by this pollution. In addition, residents have complained that this contamination has killed their cattle and made them sick.

The government of El Salvador has fought back and has not renewed the environmental permit to many mining companies, but much damage has already been done.  The long term effects of this pollution will no doubt be felt in future generations.  These residents and activists are calling on the Salvadoran government to pass the Water Act, which would set a structure framework for water sanitation and development.

SEW played an important role in providing simple water filtration devices to the SEW woman and families. These woman and their families have greatly reduced the amount of time they are ill and have seen a far better quality of life.

Let us unite with Salvadoran Enterprises for Woman in helping provide clean water to families and communities in El Salvador. Let us also try to learn more about the impact American corporations have in other parts of the world and how they affect natural resources. This summer as you use water; be mindful of the gift it is to have accessible and clean drinking water.

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