Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Bishop Tomas Balduino on Seven Weeks for Water

Last year I was fortunate enough to meet Dom Tomás Balduino who is Bishop Emeritus of Goiás. He was touring Switzerland to raise awareness of a major project in Brazil to divert the course of a river so as to bring water to agribusiness rather than the local population. In 2006 the Swiss and Brazilian churches issued a joint ecumenical declaration on the human right to water, one small way for churches to make sure that local campaigns on the right to water gain some global recognition.
Balduino has dedicated his life to supporting the struggle of the poorest in Brazil for their rights. Today he is adviser to the Pastoral Land Commission, an organization of the Roman Catholic Church that fights for the rights of rural workers and peasants in Brazil.
He has written this week's meditation on Seven Weeks for Water about "Sister Water or Blue Gold?"

At the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Ricardo Petrella, a professor, author, and water activist from Italy, reported that Nestlé and Coca Cola are buying up large tracts of land in Brazil that contain permanent water springs. Those multinationals are investing vast sums of money in Europe in the bottled water market. Their aim in South America is the same. The International Monetary Fund has put pressure on African governments to accept water privatization as a condition for their receiving subsidies for development. There are rivers in Brazil that are dead through the discharge of industrial chemical waste. That is one way in which water is exploited in favour of production. That is happening even in the ancient ecological sanctuaries in our country such as Bacia do Xingu. The water of the River Fresco, that used to be clear, has now become full of sediment through widespread gold-mining. Fish have been found that are blind through lack of light.
Read more here and think about getting your church to sign up to the ecumenical declaration on water as a human right.
Photo by Guilherme Cecilio