God Lead Us: Churches Calling of Action for Water Justice in Pakistan

22March, Lahore: According to the Christian tradition, Lent is a time to prepare for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ. During this period many young people engage in fasting and practice moderation or self-denial in order to focus on repentance and consecrating oneself to God. While water has a strong spiritual significance in the Christian tradition as a gift of God, this scarce resource is threatened and denied to billions around the world.

Pakistan has the 4th largest groundwater aquifer – covering an area of 1,137,819 km, making it slightly larger than England. On the other hand, Pakistan is the third largest groundwater user in the world and fourth-largest groundwater withdrawing country contributing to 9 per cent of the global groundwater extraction and making the Indus Basin aquifer the second most “over stressed” groundwater basin in the world.

Across Pakistan the groundwater contribution is estimated to be 60 per cent for agriculture, 90 per cent for drinking and 100 per cent for industry. Annual groundwater withdrawal is estimated to be 65 bcm while annual renewable groundwater resources are estimated to be 55 bcm.

On the other hand, only 36 per cent Pakistanis have access to safe drinking water, and
Pakistan is among top 10 countries with lowest access to clean water near home. Nearly 21 million people travel long distance to get water. The quality of ground water is also depleting. There is bacteriological and heavy metal contamination making more than 50 million people in Pakistan at a risk of arsenic poisoning. Around 92 per cent of sewage water is untreated and discharged directly into rivers and canals.

Ecumenical Commission for Human Development, a Christian, independent ecumenical advocacy, humanitarian relief and development agency, organize an Ecumenical Youth Lent Service in relation to World Water Day 2019 at Ecumenical Center, National Council of Churches in Pakistan, Lahore on 22 March 2019 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

During Lent 2019, Ecumenical Commission for Human Development launch a campaign of #SevenWeeksofWater” in collaboration with National Council of Churches in Pakistan and Brot-fur-die-Welt, Germany, to explore the water challenges in the 21st century. Water is critical to life that the followers of Christ are witnessing efforts towards achieving water justice.

Indeed, Jesus taught that only those who gave food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty could be considered as his followers. (Matthew 25: 34). Churches must undertake the role as the body of Christ, as God’s hands and feet in the world, with unprecedented zeal with the highest priority on the agenda of every national church, congregation and organization.

Churches and ecumenical organizations are called by God to use their unique voice to help create His kingdom here on earth, but without water justice, the Kingdom remains incredibly distant in the face of needless suffering and death for God’s children and the destruction of the integrity of His creation.

Churches and ecumenical organizations have certain critical roles and responsibilities in achieving water justice as following:

 Churches and ecumenical organizations can engage and educate the congregations and communities on spiritual and ethical values of water as well as Christian responsibilities to treat water respectfully and to seek water justice.

 Churches and ecumenical organizations can seek to be responsible in use of water in the places of worship, and in our daily lives, by setting an example of lightening the lamp stand for all to see. (Mark 4:21)

 Churches and ecumenical organizations can fund and carry out projects to provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene education, including actions to prevent water pollution to express the love and dignity to improve access to clean water and adequate sanitation.

 Churches and ecumenical organization can raise a prophetic voice of faith in support of water justice towards providing water and sanitation to the most vulnerable populations.

 Churches and ecumenical organizations can pursue water justice by highlighting the powerful witness of unjust and irresponsible behaviour and to protect all of God’s creation.

Ecumenical Commission for Human Development is independent Christian advocacy, humanitarian aid and development agency, dedicated to build a world free from poverty, disease and injustice strongly believes that collaborative partnerships with enduring hope together can change the world in achieving water justice around the globe.

James Rehmat

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