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Addressing gender further means demystifying gender, addressing value systems and cutting out the stereotyping of women as victims and beneficiaries only. Using broader tools that are gender sensitive is to be preferred over separate gender tools. Institutional change for operationalising gender in the overall water sector is another crucial aspect to be addressed in a follow-up programme, including the transformation of senior management attitudes and arriving at a better gender balance among professionals in water management.

Fragmented operations in the field should be addressed.

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Also in other groups it was stressed that the sector does not yet cater for the reality that domestic water supply is also used for small scale production and irrigation water for domestic use. Ismail Serageldin said that the Global Water Partnership would welcome a concrete proposal from this alliance. Later at IRC, P. We begin our lives in the womb surrounded by water and our lives come to an end when we lack water. It is the life-blood of our ecosystem that supports the survival of both humans and non-humans alike.

Numerous religions use water as a symbol of the sacred pointing to cleansing, freedom and new life. As populations grow and water sources run dry, access to water has become a pressing ethical issue that requires immediate attention from scholars and activists of every stripe.

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Martha Moore-Keish presents a compelling picture of the state of water in our world. Her questions of how our baptisms might impact our interpretation of the water crisis are what I address here. As Christians, we should prioritize our care and concern for protecting the waters of our earth.

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It seems to me that we need personal and communal experiences that can reframe our view of water, calling us to a greater awareness of the sacredness of water. Water certainly exists in abundance; however, drops of water that are clean and safe for drinking are becoming more difficult to find for one billion humans, most of whom live in the developing world. Many of us we might recall a photo from our own baptism, or perhaps a more recent memory of attending the baptism of a loved one. The water used is pristine and clean, often evoking the image of a new, clean life.

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Sadly this pristine clean water that fills our fonts is not the norm around our globe. Take a moment to imagine a baptism where the water was muddy, filled with insect larvae, certainly not fit for drinking and hardly fit for bathing. The reality of unclean water for one third of our global population offers an excellent entry point for Christian ethics.

Christian ethics, although a humble force in advocating for the protection of water, offers a power that lies in its ability to root action in religious and moral convictions. As people of faith, we can address this human rights and ecological tragedy not only in our churches but also through our rights as citizens to vote and organize for change.

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Only in this way will societies begin to value water for its intrinsic worth. Water, used in baptism, is an element of our natural world that invites us to the sacred. Larry Rasmussen captures this well:. Though we may ordinarily pay it little mind, largely because we confront it as a commodity, something deep within us senses its mystery and its spell. Many have become everyday mystics in the course of quiet hours beside crystal waters that seem to flow from the throne of God…something inside us is pulled into poetry, religion and fear by water, it seems.

The average temperature was eighty degrees, there was minimal shade, and the electricity was inconsistent, making fans unreliable.


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Water seemed like the best option to stay cool and hydrated. Upon turning on the tap in my new home, orange and brown water trickled out.

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This was not drinkable water, although many Islanders were forced to drink it. As volunteers, we lived in a home with an expensive and highly sophisticated water filtration system. This was the first of many moments when I recognized the vast difference between my privileged lifestyle and that of the Islanders.

This experience has remained with me, propelling both my academic and professional journey.

As a Jesuit volunteer in the Marshall Islands, I was often offered water filled with insect larvae and small bugs from friends. The anger and frustration of these experiences has stayed with me.

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Sadly, I have experienced moments like this not only in the Marshall Islands, but also in Kenya, Ecuador, and elsewhere. Why do the economically poor have to drink water like this? Why did almost half of my students in the Marshall Islands miss class each week due to water-borne illnesses? This lack of access to clean water for millions of people is a grave injustice, and it is our baptismal call that might help frame our response.

The creation stories in Genesis affirm this view of water as that which sustains, destroys, and blesses life. These texts honor the power of water and remind the human community of its interdependence with the cosmic whole of creation. The natural force and power of water has the potential to evoke a particular humility before water.

Alinglaplap, one of the small islands in the Marshall Islands where I spent time, was completely cut off from the larger islands where necessary supplies could be purchased at stores.


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The islanders lived on a diet of fish and local foods. Accessible only by boat and a small plane making weekly trips, Alinglaplap had no running water, which forced the islanders to collect their water in large cement receptacles called catchments. While getting water from the catchment one day, I realized that the water level was very low and shared with a Marshallese friend my concern.

I asked what we would do if the supply of rain water ran out.