March 22nd is World Water Day, a day to bring attention to the over 600 million people in the world without access to clean water. Access to clean water and sanitation are key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty, and women and girls are the most highly impacted when lacking those basic human necessities.
In many areas girls miss out on school because they spend most of their day walking miles to collect water for their families. Girls who do make it to school often drop out once menstruation begins due to lack of facilities. UNICEF reports that approximately 6,000 children die of water related diseases every day, most under the age of five.
Photo: Elizabeth Atalay
WaterAid is the leading international nonprofit in the clean water, sanitation and hygiene sector, and has called on Congress to oppose the proposed 28.7% cut to funding for the US Agency for International Development and Department of State, proposed in the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Blueprint. WaterAid states that this action is “out of line with America’s priorities, US moral leadership, national security interests, and the needs of poor and vulnerable people worldwide.” I stand with WaterAid in calling on Congress to fully fund international assistance.
The recently launched WaterAid #GirlStrong campaign takes aim at the inequalities faced disproportionately by women and girls who live without clean water and proper sanitation. Access to clean water opens up access to better health, and more time for education. It is estimated that somewhere around 260 billion dollars are lost from the global economy due to reduced productivity and health care costs from illnesses linked to lack of clean drinking water, poor sanitation, and hygiene. Watch the video below to see more reasons why access to clean water needs to be a priority for all.
One could not help but notice all of the development as you drove through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While there on an International Reporting Project New Media Fellowship in 2014 evidence of the country’s rapid economic growth was displayed by the progress on the roads, buildings, railroads, and homes being built-in, and around the city. What I noticed most about the “progress”, aside from the Chinese companies working on the roads, were the archaic wooden frames being used as scaffolding on the construction projects. Piles of timber were stacked by the roadside, and carts piled with the thin poles of trees were pulled amidst the traffic often by small boys barely taller than their load.
I was told that the scaffolding was Eucalyptus wood. Compared to the safety standard steel beams that would typically be used for construction projects in Europe or the USA, the tall slim Eucalyptus trees framing construction projects seemed, well, flimsy, and downright unsafe. The amazing thing is that somehow it works! As cement buildings rise from the dusty streets of the city at a rapid pace, I can imagine this is the way construction has happened for many decades along the way.
The ubiquitous evergreen hardwood Eucalyptus trees used for scaffolding are not indigenous to Ethiopia. In the late 1890’s the ruling Emperor Menelik realized they needed quick-growing resources for construction of the “new city”, Addis Ababa. The Eucalyptus tree, or Gum Tree, which is native to Australia, was known to grow quickly and easily, so Emperor Menelik imported Eucalyptus from Australia to Ethiopia, where it has thrived (in its invasive and selfish way).
The Eucalyptus tree, it turns out, demands huge amounts of water and tends to obscure other plants nearby. In Ethiopia it has come to be known as “the selfish tree”, taking for itself all the water and land around it. With Ethiopia facing the worst draught it has seen for the past 50 years, I wonder about the impact of this resource being used to help build the country, while at the same time robbing precious water from the ground.
In travel one is constantly reminded that things we take for granted in one area of the world may not exist in others. “Safety precautions” are a big one, a reminder reinforced for me for example while watching a three-year old wield a machete in Borneo. While I stared in horror, mouth agape, the local adults went about their business unfazed. Or in New Zealand where they sent me abseiling down a 100 foot drop to “black water raft” the rapids through caves on an inner tube with a mere 1/2 hour tutorial under my belt. Again and again in various scenarios around the world I have thought, this would never fly back in the litigious, and bubble wrapped USA. In most areas in this world you operate at your own risk, and I find myself wondering about all the travel mishaps we’ve never heard about. In Ethiopia I worried for the construction workers working on the tethered timber scaffolding 10 stories off the ground. My hope being that the “selfish tree” will always come through to support them.
Like a shimmering oasis the city of Riyadh rises out of the sand. Located in central Saudi Arabia the capital city is 250 miles from the nearest coast. Although the Arabian Peninsula is surrounded by water, humans cannot drink saltwater. Saltwater can be turned into drinking water through a process called desalination however, and desalination is increasingly used as global populations grow.
When my husband and I visited Riyadh in 2012, one gallon of water cost three times a gallon of gas. We could see why. The population of the city has grown from 100,000 to over five million in the past century. To supply this precious resource seven desalination plants work to provide about 70% of the potable water for the use of its inhabitants. Desalination is a costly process that takes high energy though, deep underground aquifers and scarce ground water provide the rest. Our host told us that he had dug a well for a new home that he is building on the outskirts of the city. When he said that they had to dig 500 feet down to reach water, my husband jokingly asked if they had stuck oil as well. Read the rest of this entry →
Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Partners With Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions
Two Rhode Island companies, founded and run by women, have come together this month to double the opportunity for positive impact.
Ava Anderson and Edesia were both boldly founded in Rhode Island in 2009, when the state was in the midst of the great recession that had enveloped the entire country. Both were founded by women on a mission to bring about change, and as a credit to the power of storytelling in the media, both were inspired by a news story they saw on TV. For Navyn it was Anderson Cooper reporting on a “miracle” treatment for malnutrition called Plumpy’Nut . For Ava it was a program about the toxins found in everyday cosmetic products that were dangerous to women’s health.
Unable to find any products on the market truly toxin free Ava set about creating her own line of safe non-toxic beauty, and home care products.
By establishing the non-profit Edesia in 2009 and producing Plumpy’Nut in her home state, Navyn both provided local jobs, and global nutrition solutions all at once.
Both companies have grown exponentially since they launched five years ago.
For the month of November each order of Ava Anderson products will provide a packet of Plumpy’Nut to a child in need.
Typically within 7-week course of Plumpy’Nut a child suffering from severe acute malnutrition can be brought back to a healthy weight. Proper nutrition is especially critical in small children whose brains and bodies are growing rapidly, and lack of nutrition can cause a condition called stunting from which they will never reach their full cognitive potential.
This partnership offers a great opportunity to purchase safe, toxin free products for yourself and your loved ones, while knowing that at the same time you will also be contributing towards the treatment of a child’s health. Plus for each order made through this link using the party ID # 4418 4 you will be entered to win a $25.00 Ava Anderson gift certificate! You can help us to #NourishTheFuture with these gifts that give back this month.
Please feel free to share this post and inspire others to shop Ava in November for maximum impact.
When I met the publisher of ORIGIN Magazine, Maranda Pleasant, at the Social Good Conference in New york City last October I never imagine that seven months later I’d be IN one of the issues of ORIGIN! OK, so this is my Mike Wizowski moment, and I’m merely a thumbnail on page 74, but I’m just so excited to be in the same magazine as Giselle (and not as a fashion don’t)!!
Yoga. Art. Music. Conscious Lifestyle. Humanitarianism. Sustainability. One Platform.
The new issue just hit newsstands nationwide , and highlights the SOULSHINE Tour with Michael Franti launching in June. The tour will be coming to a city near you, and it is going to be incredible. SOULSHINE brings music and yoga together like never before, and I’m thrilled to be the Rhode Island Ambassador for it! When I found out I needed to submit a photo I immediately asked my talented friend Rebecca Stearns of Rebecca Stearns Photography to take it for me. Maranda asked each ambassador to answer the question;
What Makes Your Soul Shine?
If you have ever experienced ORIGIN Magazine then you already know what a pleasure this high quality publication full of amazing content for mind, soul, and body is to dive into. Maranda Pleasant, pours her seemingly boundless passion and energy into every issue with features on all of the things I love to read about. Topics such as social good, the environment, yoga, music, global issues, mind/body health, and art, are explored through interviews and stories with celebrities, and leading experts in their field. To me ORIGIN magazine is the evolution of what magazines should be, a vehicle for inspiration and positive impact in our lives and our world.