Commentary  Water, water – not everywhere

WaterCan McGill raises awareness, funds during Water Week

Most McGill students won’t think twice before cracking open a bottle of water or taking a long hot shower before class in the morning. We don’t usually think twice because these activities are so entrenched in our daily routines that we couldn’t imagine our lives without them. It also doesn’t typically cross our minds that many people in the world are unable to perform these activities. Nearly one billion people in the world today do not have access to safe drinking water, let alone the opportunity to drink a bottle of water whenever they feel like it. Over 2.5 billion people do not have the necessary means for basic sanitation. Of these 2.5 billion people, nearly two million children die every year due to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation.

According to the UN, access to water is a fundamental human right. Since water is necessary for life, our top priority in poverty relief action should first and foremost be helping people gain access to water.

It is especially important that the privileged, living in countries where access to clean water is not a concern, make an enormous effort to aid those who are less fortunate, because people living in the developing world, where freshwater is often not available, generally lack the opportunity to take a political stance on the issue of access to water. The lack of freshwater in these countries truly is a crisis and needs to be acknowledged, addressed, and acted upon.

WaterCan is a Canadian charity that was founded in 1987 in order to help alleviate world poverty through programs that aid some of the world’s poorest people in gaining access to clean water, learning basic sanitation, and receiving hygiene education. Efforts are primarily located in eastern Africa and focus on small indigenous communities.

The student-run McGill chapter of WaterCan supports the charity through fundraising and events organized for students. It is the most successful university chapter in the country and raises over $20,000 each year. WaterCan’s events are set up to raise not only money, but also awareness about the freshwater crisis in Montreal’s vast student community.

WaterCan McGill supports World Water Day (March 22) in a major way. The United Nations set up World Water Day to bring attention to the immense importance of freshwater. This year, WaterCan McGill has decided to turn this important day into an entire week of festivities with the intention of raising awareness about the importance of freshwater and doing fundraising for the charity. Each day this week, from Monday to Friday, WaterCan McGill has set up different events for students to take part in. The remaining events include: movie night in Leacock from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday; the semi-formal Little Black Dress party on Thursday night at KoKo; and a concert night from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Gerts on Friday.

The WaterCan committee sincerely hopes that all students will acknowledge the importance of this issue – especially during this week – and participate to the events. Come show your support in the constant battle against poverty by helping to provide clean freshwater sources for everyone.

Lidia Kucharczyk is a U1 Management student and a volunteer at WaterCan McGill. Write her at