“A day to celebrate, a day to change, a day to prepare” -UNWater.org
March 22, 2015 was the official UN World Water Day. It has actually been around for 22 years and each year the United Nations likes to highlight a different aspect of water related issues and what the significance of water in different places around the world means. This years theme was chosen to be Water and Sustainable Development. Water isn’t just a Millenium Development Goal because it’s just great resource. It’s a MDG because it is interconnected with health, poverty, gender equality, education, nature, industry, development, energy and food security. Every day we use water, brush our teeth, take a shower, wash our hands, wash our food, cook our food, it’s used in factories and so much more. It’s easy to turn on our faucets and not think about where is it coming from and how access to water or lack of really impacts those around us. I’m going to be talking a lot about how water is directly linked to sustainable development in other countries but don’t think for a second that water isn’t an issue at home. Living in a country like the United States, the average person does not have to worry about access to clean water but that doesn’t mean we don’t have water issues in this country. Those living in poverty have less access to clean and running water, people living close to factories may have a higher risk of contaminated water and even in California citizens are restricting their water consumption due to drought. These are just a few problems at home but here are the startling statistics about water around the world.
- In developed countries 9 million people go without water access.
- In Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa 394 million people go without access to water
- Women and children spend 140 million hours a day collecting water
- 1 in 9 people worldwide lack access to clean water (750 Million people or 2.5 the population of the United States)
- Diarrhea is the 4th leading cause of child death, a majority of which are water-related (Every minute a child dies of water related disease)
- On average, every $1 invested in water and sanitation provides a $4 economic return
- Surveys from 45 developing countries show that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the vast majority of households (76%). This is time not spent working at an income-generating job, caring for family members, or attending school
Clearly, water is interlinked and interrelated to so many different types of problems and if we solve the lack of access to clean water we begin solving other things as well. If we make one small change in one community the impact is incredible. Imagine this, we pick out one community that does not have access to clean drinking water and we drill one well and put in a water purification system, what do you think will change other than having safe drinking water? Women and children will no longer have to walk hours to obtain water, kids can go to school and women can then get a job. This job then can pull the family out of poverty or pay school fees. Having water in the community also keeps people safe, when walking hours to obtain the water not only is it dangerous because of the environment but also because it leaves women and children vulnerable to violence. The water that they have now wouldn’t be contaminated which gets rid of water borne disease, this goes for drinking water, cooking water and bathing. If children aren’t getting sick as often, this means more time in the classroom. On a larger scale, conflicts happen when there is a finite resource, when the resource is fairly divided then conflict is avoided. Increasing access to such a resource will help communities and countries avoid such conflicts that can turn violent and deadly. With just the addition of a drilled well and water purification system, a whole lot of positive came out of it! This just happens to be the highly condensed version as well! If you are looking for more information I would highly suggest checking out www.water.org or www.unwater.org
So we know what can happen with the lack of access to clean water, we know what good can come out giving a community that access, but what does that mean for us? What could we be doing to help out?
Unfortunately money is sometimes the best answer. I would highly suggest donating to an organization like Charity:Water. They offer so many different ideas to support clean water wells like giving up your birthday for clean water. The best part about Charity Water is that they make giving so easy and they are incredibly transparent. Click here to learn more! If you don’t have money to give here are other suggestions for you:
1. Turn all taps off when brushing teeth or washing dishes, conserve your water!
2. Collect grey water and use that to water plants instead of tap water(water that is nearly clean water think when you rinse pasta)
3. Use a shower head that limits the amount of water used and spend less time in the shower!
4. Encourage companies to evaluate their business practices, Coke was in big trouble over the environmental and community damages they were creating in areas where their factories popped up. Now they their Water Stewardship and Replenishment Report. I know that their business practices are still horrible for the most part however the consumer saw a problem, stopped consuming, the company saw a dip in sales and decided to resolve the problem or at least begin to attempt to!
5. Educate yourself and others about water, especially if you have young kids or siblings!
We need to continue this discussion not just one day a year. We need to practice conserving water each and every day. What ways did you celebrate World Water Day and what will you be doing to continue to celebrate it?
All stats, data, photos and information came from www.water.org, Charity:Water and unwater.org