What I’m Thankful For

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It’s Thanksgiving, which means it’s the time to reflect on your life and remember the things you’re grateful for. Whether it be your family, friends or the roof over your head, there are many things everyone can think of to be grateful for. But this year, in light of some not-so-recent events that have dragged on for far too long, I’ve found that the thing I am grateful for is one of the most seemingly basic pillars of life: water.

In April of 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan decided to switch to an alternative water source that was cheaper than the one they had been using. Soon, people noticed increased levels of bacteria and, later, lead in the water. For close to 3 years, the water in Flint was undrinkable. Over 100,000 residents were potentially exposed to high levels of lead in the drinking water, and over 10 deaths have been linked to the water crisis.

In January of 2016, Dakota Access announced it had received approval to move forward on bringing the four-state crude oil pipeline a step closer to construction. The pipeline travels directly under the Missouri River, the primary drinking source for the Standing Rock Sioux. Pipelines are known for being susceptible to leaks, and even the smallest leaks could seriously damage the tribe’s drinking water. Despite strong opposition and protest from the Standing Rock Sioux, who are concerned for their drinking water and also for their land, the pipeline was completed and has been operational since May of 2017.

Every day around the world, there are people who do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. In Afghanistan, it is estimated that only 27% of their population has access to improved water sources, and many don’t have access to improved sanitation facilities (these drastic figures are largely due to lack of infrastructure following the many years of war the country has faced). Because of this, 25% of deaths of children under the age of 5 are directly caused by contaminated water and poor sanitation, and 54% of children under 5 have stunted growth for the same reason.

Often times where we live, we don’t even think about the fact that we have easy access to clean, safe water, however many people within the United States, as well as globally, do not have this privilege.  Despite the fact that water should be considered a fundamental human right, many places lack access to clean drinking water.