The Right to Water

      1 Comment on The Right to Water

Several years ago, my brother was traveling regularly to Israel, Palestine, and the surrounding areas as part of a team working to research and advocate for the water rights of the Bedouin tribes. He was in law school, working with the Muslim Student Association on a project that I took very little interest in. Now I have an entirely different perspective, and interest, in his past work. Water is required for life, yet somehow, it is treated as a commodity, traded to the highest bidder.
I was especially intrigued by the resources that centered around India, the NYT article and Anupam Mishram’s TED Talk. It seems clear that those in rural areas are being denied their right to water as “a result of years of mismanagement of water resources, a failure to crack down on corruption and dithering by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on taking action to help those affected” (NYT). The limitation of water collection in traditional ways, restricting access to those communities, has social, cultural, ecological, political, agricultural, and technological ramifications. Water, and the rights of it, is integrated within all systems — because it is the one thing that humans can control that is required by everyone and everything in life.

Image source:


1 thought on “The Right to Water

  1. joannafu

    Hi Jessica,

    The work your brother was doing with regard to Bedouin water rights sounds fascinating, and I’m curious to know if you’ve since gone back to have longer discussions with him about it–and if he’s continued to track water issues in general.

    Your last statement, about how water rights are integrated within all systems, stood out to me as well. It immediately connected with our discussion this week on the nature of rights, and the assertion that without a governing force to protect human rights, they’re not truly rights at all. You note that humans can control water rights but the big question for me is *who* controls them?

    Throughout our class, and especially hearing Mishram’s talk, I’ve grappled with the question of how individuals can support policies that drive greater equality. I realize the first step for me, now that I have a broader view of the issues, is to learn more about the specifics–what policies are in play right now (or should be) and where there are opportunities for citizens to have an impact?

    I’ve found some great additional resources at and In case you’re interested, World Water Week actually puts out a call for volunteers each year (the summit is the last week of August in Stockholm)!

Leave a Reply