World Water Day
Our Water for Each Day
Clotilde Loza Quispe, UMAVIDA
In honor of World Water Day, we reflect on one of the Earth’s most precious and life-sustaining resources – water. When reflecting on water, one must take into consideration the importance of glaciers, recognizing that glaciers provide 50% of the world’s water, are the greatest reservoirs of water, and the principal regulators of the water cycle. Paradoxically, all over the world, we are destroying the mountains and glaciers, and hence, destroying the water provisions for future generations.
Our development and consumer focused societies are run on the over-use of fossil fuels, which has led to climate change, causing glacial melting and contamination of water sources. Climate changes are shifting cultural life for those who live in the high Andean regions. The wind blows on all sides of the water tables. The rains fall outside of their normal season. The people are sick in their bones and suffer from headaches due to abnormal weather. The climate has become heavy and suffocating. With the melting of the glaciers, we find the intersection of water justice and climate justice.
It is very important to talk about water when we talk about climate change. We must realize that if we over-extract water from aquifers, basins and other water retention systems, we will then create problems in the hydrological cycle.
If we add up the impact of global warming with the generated impacts from mining, the glaciers will melt more quickly because the mining activities cover them with dust which produces more heat.
In Bolivia, the snowcapped mountains and glaciers are very important, due to dependence on them for water use, irrigation, consumption and also for hydropower generation in the bigger cities. Furthermore, these glaciers are sources of subsistence for the rural, indigenous communities in various parts of the country. The melting of glaciers is a critical question in Bolivia, where the availability of water is in risk and could cause grave environmental, economic, social and cultural consequences in communities.
Glaciers are the greatest reserves of freshwater, which feed our waterfalls and rivers, for which we all, both in the global North and South, must assume individual and collective responsibility to protect.
The Bolivian Joining Hands Network UMAVIDA is taking up this cause, understanding that it is urgent and necessary to take preventative actions and improve people’s awareness about the use and care of water, this very important life resource.
We have begun awareness raising and capacity building with youth through a Water School, forming environmental activists who help to spread information about and advocate for these water issues identified by each one of them in their own regions and local municipalities. This process has been interesting because it involves youth from social organizations, from communities affected by mining, and from the Church. From this ecumenical, reflective, planning space, they identified local actions to be undertaken.
To encourage involvement of youth from the global North and to create alliances, we carried out a Photo Contest in Bolivia, and with our U.S. partners, Presbyteries of Cascades and San Francisco, with the purpose of revealing the realities of contamination and poverty in both countries.
There are vanishing glaciers in the Cascades Mountains, as well, home to our U.S. partners. Almost every peak from Mt. Rainier in Washington to Mount Hood in Oregon is vulnerable to mudslides due to melting glaciers and warm rainstorms. There is also the risk of less fresh water for river systems, impacting farming, fishing, recreation and human consumption – although researchers differ wildly in the reason why temperatures are warming. Some say industry and burning fossil fuels are causal, others say it is natural climate fluctuations.
With all of these actions we continue in our commitment to build new forms of co-existence in harmony with all of God’s Creation, creating awareness around the care for its people, land, and water. With this verse water becomes a symbol of the pouring out of God’s Spirit and blessing.