Water, source of life

The color of the saris brightens up the photo: bright pinks, reds, oranges. And yet, what she shows us has nothing to do with an exotic, folkloric cliché. In a context of severe heat waves in India, villagers (in fact essentially village women: fetching water is often the business of women and young girls) draw the water that tankers have dumped in a wide and deep well. It is the youngest who bring up the buckets, sometimes perched on the coping without fear of vertigo. At the end of long ropes, containers of all kinds will collect the precious water which will then be poured into basins, jerry cans that other women, in a long united chain, fill in turn. Reserves are needed for the needs of the household, the kitchen and the body, for the care of the children!

We can imagine the time that this essential collection takes in a day. And the anguish that weighs on these villagers the prospect of repeated heat waves, harsh for people, for agriculture and for all human activities. Because they are careful not to come to conclusions too quickly, specialists avoid immediately blaming climate change; when extreme disasters occur (floods, hurricanes, storms or droughts), they simply specify that they occur as their calculations and projections suggest. And that says it all! The house literally burns when the “thermometer goes crazy” (as the front page of the same edition is titled), when the earth dries up and the bodies are tired of these excesses. The latest report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), pushed into the background due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, yet again sounded the alarm about the consequences of global warming. .

Water is one of those universal goods, of which the social thought of the Church (recalled by the encyclical Laudato si’) underlines that they belong to all and must be protected so that everyone can have access to them, today and in the decades to come. It is difficult to measure, in our privileged countries, its value and its rarity. We remember an episode of the beautiful film Go live and become, by Radu Mihaileanu, telling the story of a young Ethiopian adopted in Israel by a Jewish family, following the Moses operation supposed to repatriate Ethiopian Jews: the child takes a shower and is frightened to see the water flow through the drain and disappear. In his eyes, lost, wasted…

On the model of the advertising slogan inviting to save electricity “It’s not Versailles here”, the reasoned consumption of water must also enter into our ways of living more soberly. On all sides, during the presidential election campaign and now for the legislative elections, political leaders promise us: the ecological transition is starting. It will not only be the business of political or economic decision-makers; it must also transform us. We too must participate in this transition, by measuring how necessary it is so that, far from us, women and girls can escape this painful constraint of going daily to draw water and carrying buckets and basins to their homes. . We must protect their lives.


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