“A TALE OF TWO CITIES AND THE WATER THAT UNITES THEM”
[FLINT, MICHIGAN, March 11, 2019]— They are 4,330 miles apart, and on separate continents, the cities of Flint, Michigan and Dakar, Senegal experience a common challenge —clean, safe, and readily available water. Youth for Global Health & Social Justice (Y4GH)—an initiative of the United Nations—is committed to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6, Clean Water and Sanitation as a human right. With water projects in Flint and Dakar, Y4GH brings these two cities together to celebrate World Water Day 2019.
World Water Day—an international day of observance held each year on March 22—aims to heighten awareness of the lack of clean water and sanitation wherever it exists and call to action to make a difference. The intention is to inspire people around the world to learn more about water-related issues and to take action to make a difference. The global water crisis is one of the issues that call for action. Both cities have scheduled Water Day Activities that will be published on their official websites:
Mayor Karen Weaver – Flint, Michigan
Karen Williams Weaver is an American politician, clinical psychologist, and small business owner who has been the mayor of Flint, Michigan since November 9, 2015. She succeeded Dayne Walling, whom she defeated in a November 2015 election. She is the first female mayor of the city.
Weaver is a member of the Democratic Party, although local offices in Flint are officially nonpartisan. She is also a member of the United States Conference of Mayors, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Governor Rick Snyder’s Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee.
In her short time as mayor, Weaver has twice visited the White House and met U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. She has overseen the city’s role in the recovery from the ongoing Flint water crisis, the most dominant issue during her tenure as mayor.
Lead seepage into the drinking water in Flint, Mich., has caused a massive public health crisis and prompted President Obama to declare a federal state of emergency there.
The problem began when the city switched its water supply in 2014. Almost immediately, residents of Flint — a majority-black city where 40 percent of people live in poverty — started complaining about the quality of the water. City and state officials denied for months that there was a serious problem.
Mayor Soham El Wardini – Dakar Senegal
Senegal’s capital, Dakar, has made a mark in history as one of the cities to get its first ever female mayor since its independence. Soham El Wardini has become the first woman in post-independent Senegal to hold the post. Wardini polled 64 votes against her opponent’s 13 votes and 11 votes for Moussa Sy and Banda Diop respectively.
The Senegalese capital, Dakar, which has a population of three million inhabitants, has had a tumultuous mayoral history over the past two years.
Born in the town of Latmingué and raised in the Kaolack region, Wardini’s political career started in 1999 when she joined the Alliance of Forces of Progress (AFP), the party of the former socialist prime minister. When the AFP split, she joined the Khalifa Sall faction in 2012 and rose through the ranks to become his deputy in 2014. While Sall was deposed and his case was being tried, Wardini served as acting mayor.
Residents in the capital Dakar have been facing a shortage of running water since May, with all neighborhoods affected. Running water is reportedly often only available in the middle of the night and available water is suspected of being of poor quality.
What these two cities share, while not the best of times, it could well be the worst.