Monday was World Water Day, and one South American leader tried to make the most of it. With Bolivia facing devastating water shortages, President Evo Morales is pressuring the U.N. to make access to potable water a basic human right.
Marking World Water Day, Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Monday he has decided to ask the United Nations to make access to potable water a "universal human right."
Morales, known for his environmental advocacy, said the declaration would put political backing behind necessary actions to deliver safe drinking water as a basic service to the more than 1 billion people worldwide who do not have access to safe water.
In mostly indigenous El Alto, a sprawling lower-class satellite city north of the country's administrative capital La Paz, 9-year-old Orlando Lanchipa Guarachi collects water in these containers to bring back to his family's home.
Despite recent government efforts to provide clean water to all citizens, it is estimated that 30 percent of Bolivians lack access to potable water.
[Alicia Lanchapa Guarachi, Mother]: (Spanish)
"We don't have water. Many of us struggle with water. Recently we have been sending the kids to school dirty because there is not enough water."
The executive director of Sustainable Water -an NGO that advocates the need for safe drinking water - Juan Carlos Alurralde says Morales' decision to bring this to the United Nations is an important step forward but says other governments, especially those of developed countries, need to do their part as well.
Since coming to power in 2006, Morales has created a Water Ministry and listed potable water and other basic services, including electricity and telecommunication services as categories of human rights in a new national constitution enacted in 2009.