Author:Damodaran, Ramu
Position:Water supply - Editorial

One of the first resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, on the location of the headquarters of the Organization, gives the United Nations "exclusive rights over the subsoil of land conveyed to it, and in particular the right to make constructions underground and to obtain therefrom supplies of water." That was, in many ways, a metaphor for the rights of "we the peoples" who had constituted the United Nations and their legitimate claim to the fertile wealth of the land that was their home. It was also a metaphor in another sense, a reminder that no matter how vast the visible, the invisible can too be attained.

Water is visible in Juba, South Sudan's capital on the southern edge of the Nile, but just shy of its city limits, in the community of Munuki, wells are dug deep into for invisible, and often contaminated, drinking water. UNMISS, the UN Mission in South Sudan, created a wholly new hydrosystem in the area, bringing clean water to the surface with the turn of a tap. An ocean away, in Vietnam, the UNICEF Tap Project encourages patrons in restaurants to donate a dollar or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free, creating funds to bring the same water to children denied its access. Just west, the National University of Singapore devises a "drainage block" to "improve water harvesting, and to create a much larger base flow that is required for beautification of urban canals" as part of the World Intellectual Property Organization's "WIPO Green" database. Arc north to Tashtak, in Kyrgyzstan, where children had to cross the country's busiest road to fetch water from nearby villages; every few weeks a child was struck and injured by a car or truck. Despite contributions from every resident of Tashtak, a project to put standpipes in the street was still short of the...

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