About the Author: Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca directs the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
This week, the international community celebrated World Water Day, an opportunity to discuss ways to make water sustainable for generations to come.
Often we are reminded of the importance of water when there's too much or too little -- when a water main breaks or a field cracks due to drought or when rivers overflow their banks. The impact of water and drought doesn't just affect crops, fields, local economies, and water resources; it also affects the security of men, women, and children throughout the world.
The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons tracks how populations are more vulnerable to incidences of human trafficking in water-challenged communities. News reports this year have indicated that there are several incidences of women being sold by their husbands to pay off debts as well as young girls being sold into sexual slavery or forced labor by their impoverished families in water-stressed areas.
Trends from the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) signal that as the water supply decreases, so does political, economic, and human security, thereby leading to higher incidences of human trafficking. Women and girls are at a higher risk of suffering from these exploitative crimes, such as debt bondage, sexual slavery, or forced labor than others in the communities due to cultural traditions.
Working with our partners throughout the world, we can bridge the divide between water and human security. Strengthening the world's water supply and ability to manage it during times of instability and uncertainty will help ebb the increased likelihood of trafficking in persons.
Let us hear from you on how the world can work together to keep men, women, and children in water-stressed areas across the globe safer.