The water crisis today is not an issue of scarcity, but of access. It is a frightening and sobering fact that the water in an American's toilet is cleaner than the water many people in the world have to struggle to get for drinking and cooking.
Some water facts from water.org/learn-about-the-water-crisis/facts/
- More people in the world own cell phones than have access to a toilet. 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people.
- 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease.
- The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
- People living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city.
- An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.
- Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation – defined as a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact.
- Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection and 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion people who have no facilities at all.
- Diarrhea remains in the second leading cause of death among children under five globally. Nearly one in five child deaths – about 1.5 million each year – is due to diarrhea. It kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
- Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease, and 1.4 million children die as a result of diarrhea each year.
It is also shocking to see the impact water has on women. In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water for domestic use. A study by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) of community water and sanitation projects in 88 communities found that projects designed and run with the full participation of women are more sustainable and effective than those that do not. This supports an earlier World Bank study that found that women’s participation was strongly associated with water and sanitation project effectiveness.
Over 50 percent of all water projects fail and less than five percent of projects are visited, and far less than one percent have any longer-term monitoring. Investment in safe drinking water and sanitation contributes to economic growth. For each $1 invested, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates returns of $3 – $34, depending on the region and technology
And, of course, there is the impact on the environment. 70% of the Earth is covered by water BUT less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.
More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas
The UN estimates that by 2025, forty-eight nations, with combined population of 2.8 billion, will face freshwater “stress” or “scarcity”.
Agriculture is the largest consumer of freshwater by far: about 70% of all freshwater withdrawals go to irrigated agriculture.
At home the average American uses between 100 and 175 gallons of water a day. That is less than 25 years ago, but it does not include the amount of water used to feed and clothe us. Conserving water helps not only to preserve irreplaceable natural resources, but also to reduce the strain on urban wastewater management systems. Wastewater is costly to treat, and requires continuous investment to ensure that the water we return to our waterways is as clean as possible.
I like the Water.org philosophy that people in developing countries know best how to solve their own problems. They forge partnerships with carefully-screened partner organizations in the target countries that understand, and are part of, the local culture.The result is a solution tailored to the need of each community, instead of a technological fix the community has no way of maintaining.
Locally-based partners are better positioned to understand and navigate social, political, and economic issues impacting projects. They are more savvy at leveraging local financial resources for cost-sharing in projects. Using local expertise to implement projects is more cost effective than maintaining expatriate staff.
Help the efforts of water.org at DONATE.water.org
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