by José Luis Leal
by José Luis Leal
Some public works can make a decisive contribution to the 2030 Agenda. Among the most effective ones are those designed to ensure access to safe water.
They directly impact three of the Sustainable Development Goals: end hunger and achieve food security, promote wellbeing for all at all ages, and ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. If, additionally, such projects are the result of cooperation between the private sector and humanitarian organizations, they become one main action: to contribute to a fairer and more sustainable world.
That is the story of Action Against Hunger and Ferrovial in Colombia, where since 2014 we have worked together to provide a quality water supply to over four thousand people through five projects in the departments of Córdoba and Santander. This partnership has enabled us to build compact plants that treat and preserve water safely. Water that is used not only to quench thirst or water crops, but also to prevent and alleviate hunger in one of the areas of Latin America most affected by malnutrition, because without clean water, children under five become unable to properly absorb necessary nutrients, leaving them completely unprotected against diseases that can worsen very quickly and lead to a state of malnutrition. In these regions, water alleviates hunger as well as thirst.
But it’s not just the physical infrastructure that is important. In all these projects, we have fostered community management by creating community water committees. The return on this activity is not only sustainability in the use of the clean water infrastructure; we have also strengthened the social structure of communities in inaccessible areas that have been hard hit by decades of conflict and violence. Water is also an instrument for building peace in many places around the world.
It is very difficult to capture all of this in a single picture. Only someone of the caliber of José Manuel Ballester, winner of Spain’s National Photography Award, would even try. With his lens, he has managed to capture not just lines, shapes, and light, but also the full meaning of an action that, for many people, isn’t just about water but also about life, dignity, and opportunity: in short, a future. These pictures reflect all of that.
José Luis Leal, President of Action Against Hunger and former Spanish minister of Economy