Let’s not overthink this. Water is elemental to life and prosperity. Since the beginning of humanity, water has influenced where we live, what we eat, how we conduct business and nearly every other aspect of our lives. Today, those who have abundant and potable water often take it for granted. And those who don’t, implore us to respond.
A few years back, I was working in an impoverished and conflict ridden region of Uganda. The situation was so volatile that other Ugandans would not dare venture into this district. After four days of living with these three tribal groups, I learned that at the core of much of their conflict was access to clean water. Water for their animals, their crops, their personal use and for the children of the school that had been established. One tribal group only had access to an unclean, sand-filled bore hole, while another tribe had property rights to a pond. The third tribe tried to harvest rain water that fell irregularly. The result of water injustice was severe malnutrition, rampant disease and recurring violence. When we facilitated a process that established that everyone needed access to clean water and built a system to make water available for all, the violence ended through a community reconciliation ceremony, the agricultural harvest quadrupled and the school tripled in numbers over the following year. A distressed community began to thrive.