Monday, January 03, 2011

Water and the New Year

2011 began with firecrackers – but I slept through the midnight madness.

This week I’ll be joining a group from the Sister Water Project of the Dubuque Franciscan Sisters to work with the community of El Pelon [Baldy], in the municipality of San Juan, Intibucá.

It will be some hard work – but I’ll get off a few days to get to a Catholic Social Teaching Workshop in Erandique, Lempira. I’ll probably get there late since my car may not be repaired by that time.

Water is a critical issue here, as in most of the world. Access to water for basic human needs is precarious in many rural communities. Another issue is the protection of water-sources (micro-cuencas), some of which are threatened by deforestation.

Another issue is the use of rivers for hydroelectric projects, supposedly green energy. One of the problems is that many of the concessions for use of the rivers are being given to the economic elite in Honduras and to foreign companies.

There are at least two of these projects being planned in the department of Intibucá, one of the poorest in the nation. One is being financed by a company owned by members of Honduras’ economic elite; the other by a Houston-based company. There may be more.

The issue, as I see it, is who will profit from these and other projects. Is this another case where the resources of the nation will be exploited for personal and corporate gain and where the needs of the poor will be disregarded.

In a 2006 statement ,"Water, an Essential Element for Life," the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace noted:
Pope John Paul II recalled that there exist important human needs which escape the market logic and water is precisely one of these. It cannot be used solely as a means for profit because it is essential to the survival of the human person and thus cannot be transformed into a good reserved to the exclusive advantage of only those who can afford to pay for it.
That’s an important issue and I am sure that it will be a major issue this year here in Honduras.

I am glad that I can begin this year in one small effort to bring water to people who need it.


The photo is of a stream on Celaque, the National Reserve on the highest mountain in Honduras, just south of Gracias, Lempira.

No comments: