St Paul's Institute

Introducing JustWater during Christian Aid Week

by Barbara Ridpath

Posted: 12 May 2016

This week is Christian Aid Week. St Paul's Institute and St Paul's Cathedral are supporting Christian Aid in their endeavours to fight poverty. Christian Aid Week's effectiveness is in its ability to make the stranger in poverty far away, real to us and personal, so that we who live in comfort can begin to understand the needs of others, and reach out a helping hand.

This year, the story focuses on a Bangladeshi mother, Morsheda, and her four children who live on the flood plain there. Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the people living on the low-lying islands on the Brahmaputra River are among the poorest of the poor. Each year, flooding comes, threatening to sweep away everything these families have. Morsheda's home has been flooded several times, and last August it flooded again.

The subject this year - along with the recently released report Act Now or Pay Later: Protecting a Billion People in Climate-threatened Coastal Cities - is particularly resonant to St Paul's Institute as we turn our attention to the theme of water and stewardship over the next eighteen months. Water is a gift from God, essential to our survival. But both too much water and not enough water are dangers to life. The sounds of the burbling stream or the roaring waves bring joy, but too much water can cause devastation. The pleasures of water help make this a subject that people respond to, and yet the search for sufficient clean water is increasingly a source of conflict around the world.

Climate change and human overuse of water resources are both putting enormous pressure on the availability of clean water for sustenance. Drought and desertification are on the increase in many parts of the world. In others, flooding caused by overbuilding, poorly kept waterways, and decreased ground absorption capacities ruins lives and livelihoods. Elsewhere, rising tides are depriving island and coastal dwellers of their homes and communities. In many parts of the world, getting sufficient access to clean drinking water remains difficult and expensive.

Our programme is called JustWater to draw attention to these issues with churches and cathedrals around the world, and consider water both theologically and scientifically. Each location will address the water issues that are most important to them. All of us will come away with a better understanding of how we can become instruments of change. In the months to come, you will see and hear more from us on this interdisciplinary programme.

Morsheda may live in Bangladesh, but she's still our neighbour. We need to consider what we can do to help her, what we can do to help others like her, and how our own actions can affect the lives of others however far away.

All of us at St Paul's Cathedral are pleased and proud to support Christian Aid week again this year and encourage you to join us. We hope and pray that Christian Aid Week will be successful in alerting the world to the changes that must be made to many people's lives in our world and celebrate Christian Aid's vital and practical contribution to that change. At the same time, we hope you will join us as we build and develop our JustWater programme.

Please don't hesitate to contact us at if you would like to get involved.

About this author

Barbara Ridpath is the Director of St Paul's Institute.

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of St Paul's Institute or St Paul's Cathedral.