In a powerful and informative presentation, Koni Benson, steering committee member of the Africa Water Justice Network (AWJN), addressed two critical issues affecting the African continent. Speaking at the “From Scarcity to Security to Sovereignty: A Re-Examination of South Africa’s Water Crises” symposium, Benson shed light on water challenges in South Africa and the urgent need to take action. Additionally, she strongly condemned the ongoing siege on Gaza by the Israeli government and called for respect for human rights and international law.
South Africa’s Water Crisis: From Scarcity to Sovereignty
Benson began by highlighting the pressing challenges faced by households in South Africa in terms of water access. She emphasized that these challenges have been exacerbated by climate change, ecological collapse, and social inequality, making it a matter of utmost urgency. The event was organized on 23rd October, 2023 by the University of Johannesburg’s Chair for Social Change, in collaboration with the Centre for Social Change (CSC) and the Africa Centre for Evidence (ACE).
Condemning the Gaza Siege: A Stand for Justice and Human Rights
In her presentation, Koni Benson also addressed the alarming situation in Gaza. She strongly condemned the Israeli government’s ongoing siege and denial of water and other basic necessities to the people of Gaza. She called upon all parties involved to respect human rights and international law in their actions.
The situation in Gaza has been dire for a long time, with limited access to safe and clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, and adequate healthcare. The recent intensification of the siege and the cut-off of essential resources, including clean water and medical supplies, has further exacerbated the humanitarian crisis. The AWJN stands firm in its commitment to principles of justice, equality, and respect for human rights, advocating for every individual’s right to access clean and safe water.
The presentation highlighted the control of water supplies in the region by Israel, leading to a state of ‘water apartheid’ in which Palestinians are denied control of and access to water resources and services, falling far below minimum water standards set by the World Health Organization. In Gaza, 97% of the water is unfit to drink, leading to severe public health impacts.
Koni Benson called on all parties involved to adhere to international law, including the Geneva Conventions, and prioritize the welfare of the civilian population in Gaza. She urged the international community, including the United Nations and its member states, to take immediate and concerted action to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza.
In the spirit of solidarity, the AWJN stands alongside organizations and advocates working tirelessly to address the water and humanitarian crisis in Gaza. They reaffirm their commitment to justice, human rights, and access to clean water for all, echoing the call for a more just and equitable world.