Picture yourself walking into your kitchen, filling a glass with water and taking a drink. To the majority of the developed world, this is a very normal occurrence and considered a basic human right. Yet, over 2 billion people on our planet cannot do this. Why? An estimated 785 million people have NO access to safe water. That’s ZERO access! They have neither clean water to drink nor a safe way to wash their hands. And sadly, nearly 1.5 billion more people can access water but have to travel to get it. And often the water they get is contaminated, unfit for consumption.
What are the Results of Unclean water?
Unclean water leads to disease and death. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates over 2,200 deaths each day are direct results of diseases acquired from contaminated water. And the effect on children is magnified. 1 of every 5 deaths of children under age 5 in developing countries happens because they do not have clean or safe water available. And up to a half of the world’s hospital beds would be emptied if water-related diseases did not exist.
In a world in which a point and click allows people to virtually connect from one side of the globe to the other at unprecedented speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second or more, we still don’t have drinking water for almost 10% of our world’s population. Furthermore, up to 28% of the population has dirty water. While there is no point and click solution to our water crisis, quick action is needed.
Why the Urgency?
Now is the time to ensure the next generation has clean water. The world’s population is on the rise, resulting in increasing demands for this vital commodity. Over the past 20 years, we have added 1.7 billion people to our globe and are approaching 7.8 billion. Since 1970, our world’s population has doubled! Surges are expected to continue throughout this century, with the majority of underdeveloped nations growing at the fastest rates. Africa is the continent seeing the highest growth. Asia is second, and these two continents contain the most concentrated areas where the majority of water is unsafe.
However, clean water challenges are not limited to developing countries. In a report from last September, the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) estimates that 30 years from now our global water demand will increase by 55%. And while demand is increasing, some of our current supply sources may be depleted. The UCCRN’s reports that climate change variables contributing to declines in streamflow during warmer seasons could subject an estimated 650 million people in over 500 cities vulnerable to a 10% less supply over the next 3 decades. That means people who now have clean water will potentially have less.
Is There Any Good News?
Thankfully, humanitarian activists and health organizations are aspiring to take action to meet the safe water demand with solutions. Among the numerous organizations making a marked difference, The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has been actively drilling wells and providing filtration systems in remote areas that previously had no sources of safe water. And thankfully, progress is being made. UNICEF reports that from 2000-2017, 1.6 billion people gained access to basic water service. And these programs and plans will continue to be implemented so that millions more will soon have water available.
We Can All be a Part of the Solution
Not all of us can relocate our lives to undeveloped areas to help drill wells. However, the reality is that we all can make a difference. Here are 3 practical ways to help end the global water crisis:
1) Become educated to understand the needs of our communities and world. Use the sources listed below or seek out your own. Be an advocate for awareness in your conversations at home, work and with friends.
2) Partner with organizations making a difference. If you are in a position to donate to an organization that is helping eliminate our global water crisis, do so. Every donation helps.
3) Find ways to conserve and recycle your daily usage of water. Take a shorter shower. Water your lawn or wash your car less frequently. Or, find a way to catch and conserve rainwater. Each gallon (liter) saved helps the global cause.