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The EWN is a network of churches and Christian organizations promoting people's access to water around the world

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Week 3: Being an advocate

The Lord turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste,
because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.

The Lord turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
And there he lets the hungry live,
and they establish a town to live in;
they sow fields, and plant vineyards,
and get a fruitful yield.
Psalm 107.33-37

Being an advocate

The Psalmist offered his hearers an object lesson in the consequences of their collective behaviour. We don't know whether this was a reference to particular incidents but it was obviously the kind of thing with which people would have been familiar. The lack or abundance of water was not down to arbitrary actions by God but was related to the way people behaved.

The Psalmist saw things at the level of the local community and we can point to places where greed or creativity have had similar consequences. However, we are now also aware of the inter-connectedness of life at the global level. There are still consequences for behaviour but some people, even though they may do all the right things, find their water running dry. They pay the price for the greedy behaviour of others, maybe on another continent, whose business practices and political policies make them and their land thirsty. We see this at many different levels from the privatisation of collectively owned water systems to the effects of climate change. We are all involved one way or another.

We can, and should, change our personal behaviour and act responsibly towards our neighbours and the planet. We can support projects for the provision of clean drinking water and irrigation schemes.

We should also be advocates for good economic and political practices that will result in provision rather than drought for the people who share our planet. The Letter of James reminds people of faith that comforting words to sufferers are not enough. We have to be 'doers of the word' (James 1.22). If we take James seriously, our Lenten spiritual discipline should flow out into action.

This Lent, we can hear a call to be advocates, speaking and acting, for political and commercial behaviour that turns 'deserts into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water' and not the reverse.

Simon Oxley, World Council of Churches

Together we can make a difference

o Take the time to read about how power, poverty and the global water crisis are linked in the overview of the UNDP Human Development Report 2006

o Are the natural resources where you live in danger? Is the just distribution of water guaranteed? Inform yourself and motivate others, for example by organizing an informative event on the issue in your congregation.

o Speak out, maybe by writing a letter to local authorities or politicians or to the editors of your local newspapers. You can support others who do advocacy on related issues by taking part in their events, letter actions, marches, etc.

o Start by finding out whether any activities are already taking place where you live around World Water Day. How can you participate and contribute?

Links to further information

o Footsteps 45: Advocacy (Tearfund)

o Why advocate for water, sanitation and hygiene? (Tearfund)

Posted By: Ecumenical Water Network on Feb 18, 2008 03:59PM