De Wata de Rise: World Water Monitoring Day een de Gullah/Geechee Nation
by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)
Een de Gullah/Geechee Nation, hunnuh gwine yeddi we crak we teet fa sey:
“De wata bring we, de wata gwine tek we bak.”
It was surreal that this proverb would keep speaking to my soul about how people need to get back to working together and paying attention to our environment on the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s coast. I kept hearing it in my mind as we watched the reports of the massive amounts of water that were being predicted would come onto Sea Island land and even inland due to Hurricane Florence. Storm surge coupled with high tide is enough, but when you add rain over days and days, no one had any idea of how high the waters would rise nor when the rivers would crest nor how much inland dams would be able to take before the water flooded land for miles.
As we sat watching reports of water filling streets and shutting down highways including one of the main routes that has always brought many Gullah/Geechees back home-I-95, I started realizing that this is the “monitoring” of water that GOD had planned for me when he got me involved with the EarthEcho Water Challenge and kept speaking to me about being prepared for “World Water Monitoring Day.”
All of us consist primarily of water and we are told this time and time again when it is hot and we are reminded to stay hydrated (not that we don’t need to do that during the winter also). What we often forget is that water is also a universal solvent, collecting all the elements of its environment which eventually end up in things that we touch and ingest. World Water Monitoring Day was established by America’s Clean Water Foundation in 2003 to encourage and educate people on how to monitor the components of the water in their local area. The data gathered about the various bodies of water is intended to be shared through various resources, including the World Water Monitoring Challenge website www.monitorwater.org and that of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition‘s partner, EarthEcho at their website: http://worldwatermonitoringday.org/
The Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition distributed monitoring kits to the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association and its members between World Water Day in March, the Coastal Cultures Conference 2018, and World Water Monitoring Day. In order to insure the involvement of our youths in this citizens science engagement, we donated monitoring kits to St. Helena Elementary School on World Water Monitoring Day so that the students can help to test the waters now that the storm has passed by the island.
Unfortunately, the waters throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation are not all at the same level. The rivers in the Grand Strand, Pee Dee River, and Cape Fear River regions of the Gullah/Geechee Nation are currently areas from which families are being evacuated. Those monitoring the waters are watching them continue to rise as they await the coming of the fall equinox. The predictions are that the rivers will crest and the rains will stop as the full / harvest moon arrives. We can only pray that we harvest an abundance of safe people when the waters recede and that we are blessed with fresh healing waters that will wash out those filled with contamination from hog and chicken farms, failing septic tanks, coal ash spills, and nuclear plant issues along the North Carolina waterways.
May we continue to not only monitor the waters, but work more toward returning them to being clean and keeping them that way. As stated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #6:
“Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in and there is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. However, due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, millions of people including children die every year from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. At the current time, more than 2 billion people are living with the risk of reduced access to freshwater resources and by 2050…
To improve sanitation and access to drinking water, there needs to be increased investment in management of freshwater ecosystems and sanitation facilities on a local level.”
While we focus on achieving this goal on land, we are also looking at “Life Below Water” (SDG #14):
“The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation.
Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. However, at the current time, there is a continuous deterioration of coastal waters owing to pollution and ocean acidification is having an adversarial effect on the functioning of ecosystems and biodiversity. This is also negatively impacting small scale fisheries.
Marine protected areas need to be effectively managed and well-resourced and regulations need to be put in place to reduce overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification.”
We are aware of these changes to our waters taking place because the scientists have been monitoring the water even before it rose and made its way onto the land or rain down from the sky. They are looking at it even more intently and intensely at this time and so are we cuz we kno de wata bring we. I pray de wata risin mek hunnuh look pun de wata fa de blessin e kin be. I also pray that people truly realize the value and power of water and monitor its health so that we can live in and from it and remain healthy. I also pray for all the families to make it out of these rising waters safely.
Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation was one of the world leaders that took part in the Global Climate Action Summit. She shared the following message regarding the water and how we all need to also rise up to protect our environment:
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