Water is the most common substance on earth and constantly renews itself through evaporation and rainfall. Still, 97% of the world's water is salt water and thus undrinkable, and the majority of the earth's freshwater is locked up in ice caps and glaciers, leaving just 1% of the world's water available for human consumption. This water must not only satisfy domestic use, but also industry and agriculture.
Water is also the most important basic human need. People can go weeks without food, yet only days without water. One in eight, over 884 million, people on earth do not have access to safe drinking water and 3.5 million people die each year from water-related disease1. Without tackling these problems, little progress can be made on other development issues. When water is unavailable children are required by the family to collect it from several miles away and cannot attend school. These conditions cause a number of people to grow so sick that they cannot work, and infant mortality rises to very high levels. The United Nation's International Year of Fresh Water in 2003 focused attention on these issues, and produced commitments to halve the number of people without access to clean water over the next decade. It is estimated that it will take $30 billion dollars to provide safe drinking water to everyone in the world2.
In many countries, governments have failed to champion fresh water access, and so multi-national corporations have moved in and begun providing water to those without it. It is controversial, however, because many cannot afford the water provided by companies. As the globe's population is only increasing, and more people are demanding water, something needs to be done. This debate centers on whether it is just to privatize water in an effort to address the current drinking water crisis in the international community.
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