Close to one billion people on the planet do not have access to clean drinking water; that is one in six people of the global population. Water is our most essential natural resource but fewer and fewer people have access to safe drinking water and our natural reservoirs are being depleted at alarming rates. Did you know that if we do not address this crisis in the next 15 years, over 5 billion people will suffer from water shortages?
For hundreds of millions of people, dirty and diseased water leads to a cycle of illness, poverty, lack of education, and despair. Every day in rural communities and poor urban centers throughout sub-Saharan Africa, millions of people suffer from a lack of access to clean, safe water. Women and girls especially bear the burden of walking an average of 3.7 miles at a time to gather water from streams and ponds – full of water-borne disease that can make them and their families sick. Infection commonly results during bathing, washing, drinking, preparation and eating of infected food. Water borne diseases include but are not limited to diarrhea, typhoid, malaria, intestinal parasites, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Hepatitis A.
According to the Water Project, it only takes $10 to provide clean water to one person for 10 years. Additionally, it costs only $200 to provide a household water tap and a toilet to a family in a country like Honduras. The leading cause of water related illnesses is due to the lack of proper waste disposal. This means that many people, especially in developing countries, do not have a proper toilet system and therefore their water becomes contaminated. By providing some type of toilet system, the number of water related illnesses could be cut in half!
Some facts on the water crisis:
- Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness.
- Women in some developing countries like India and Africa spend 200 million hours a day collecting water.
- 200 million hours are spent each day by women and children collecting water
- 1/3 of what the world spends on bottled water per year would pay to provide water to EVERYONE in need.
The International Solution
Many organizations are installing wells, filtration systems, sanitation options and other water projects with support from donations from people like you. Helping the fight against the water crisis improves:
Education: When students are freed from gathering water, they return to the classroom. With proper and safe toilets, girls stay in school through their teenage years.
Health: Safe water equals clean hands and healthy bodies. Time lost to sickness is reduced and people can get back to school or work and help lift themselves out of poverty.
Hunger: Access to water leads to food security. With less crop loss, hunger is reduced. Schools can feed students with gardens, reducing overall education costs.
Poverty: Access to water can break the cycle of poverty providing more time spent on education. People no longer have to be hindered by sickness or hunger and can focus on living a stable life.
Economy: Clean water provides water for crops which can be sold to earn income.
Clean Water Action in the U.S.
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act Americans are ensured safe drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees the water supplies who implement those standards. There are a number of threats to drinking water: improperly disposed of chemicals; animal wastes; pesticides; human wastes; wastes injected deep underground; and naturally-occurring substances can all contaminate drinking water. Almost 7 million people are sickened every year due to contaminated tap water even though we have a much better water system than most of the world. Did you know that soapy water that may contain chemicals can make their way into a storm drain? Many of these storm drains go directly into lakes and rivers. Many Americans are living next to unsafe water from rivers and lakes and they do not even know it.
Another issue is as the demand for water supply continues to grow, water sources are being severely depleted. Groundwater in the western region of North America is being withdrawn from aquifers at a higher rate than it is being recharged. Even though the earth is 75% water, only 3% is safe drinking water. One leaking water faucet wastes 2,000 gallons of water per year. Here are some ways for you to conserve water: Turn off the water when brushing your teeth; Take shorter showers; Wash your pets outdoors in an area of you lawn that needs watering; Make suggestions to your school or employer about ways to save water; Start a public awareness campaign to show everyone how they can conserve water.
To learn more about the impact that clean water can have on a community and ways that you can get involved in clean water projects visit the following sites: