Food, Water, and Justice: the link between World Food Day and the plight of the Phichit Villagers
Water is life. Water is food. Leave No One Behind!
If you are reading this, I want you to stop, and take a sip of water. Feeling refreshed? 2.4 billion people currently live in water-stressed countries, it is not easy or simple for 10% of the world’s population to take a sip of fresh water, like you just did. This World’s Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations is highlighting the foundational role water plays in our livelihoods. Manushya Foundation stands strongly behind this initiative, while providing a real life example in the case of the Phichit Villagers, who have experienced a loss of freshwater, leading to water shortages and loss of crops, all because of Akara Resources Gold Mining operations in Phichit.
Why focus on water on World Food Day?
We are quickly losing access to fresh water. Over the last 20 years, the amount of freshwater available to us has decreased by one-fifth, and this has impacted different regions unfairly, with some areas losing up to one-third of their freshwater supply.
Water is one of the foundational components sustaining our ecosystem, especially our food. 95% of our food is produced on land, requiring soil and water to grow the food. The water that is available to us is currently being threatened by climate change, economic development, urbanization, and rapid population growth. Without understanding and combating these issues, we will quickly lose the privilege of simple things that we currently take for granted, such as drinking a glass of water, or eating our favorite meals. Action must be taken, our lives depend on it.
What happened in Phichit?
In 2001, Akara Resources opened a gold mining operation in Phichit that has severely impacted the standard of living for over 6,000 villagers. The gold mine has caused severe water contamination, making it unsafe to drink. The villagers now have to rely on deliveries, and if they are irregular or inadequate, it causes a strain on their limited finances to buy the water they need to survive.
In addition to drinking water, the contamination has contaminated the water and soil used to grow their crops. The villagers now have to rely on imported food, adding to their costs required to survive. The community in Phichit is extremely vulnerable to food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition.
To read the full story of the Phichit Villagers, click here.
What can we do? #JusticeForPhichit
Raise awareness and learn about the situation
Demand Akara Resources, and its parent company in Australia Kingsgate Ltd to close down the mine.
Demand #JusticeForPhichit Villagers, and for Akara Resources to take responsibility for their actions, and provide adequate compensation for the harm they have caused to the livelihood of Phichit.
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Manushya Foundation, Campaign page: #Justice For Phichit: Fighting for Corporate Accountability, available at: https://www.manushyafoundation.org/justice-for-phichit
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind. World Food Day, 16 October 2023, (11 October 2023), available at: https://www.fao.org/world-food-day/about/en
Journal of Public Health Naresuan University, vol. 3, no. 1 Water Quality Analysis of Water Supply at Impacted Areas by the Floodgates Project, Phichit Province, (1 April 2021), available at: https://he01.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/JPHNU/article/view/247539
The Nation, Locals point to severe water pollution near Akara gold mine, (18 November 2017), available at: https://www.nationthailand.com/in-focus/30331960
While you’re here, check out our previous advocacy and campaigns to seek #JusticeForPhichit
#JusticeForPhichit: Digital campaign supporting Manushya Foundation’s efforts on the Phichit case.
SLAPPed: Phichit Villagers Push Back Against Corporate Harassment & Intimidation!
Free trade agreements: Corporate greed makes the right to water of Phichit villagers distant reality
YouTube Video: Community-led Class Action Lawsuit Fighting Back Gold Mining in Phichit
Read our UPR Factsheet People and Planet over Profit, 13 September 2021
Read UPR Factsheet on Adverse Impact of Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements, 29 September 2021