The irony was not lost on me. I knew as I sipped the cool glass of water that this was not a luxury shared by most back at home. Here I sat in a café in New York City meeting with Water Aid representatives, discussing clean water, and sanitation in developing countries. Meanwhile, there was a water ban going on in my own hometown. Deadly E. Coli bacteria had been detected in the public water source. Stores had already run out of bottled water, families had to boil their water for use, and the town was in crisis. As a mom I felt guilty enough being away from home for a conference for several days, and now this! There is nothing like an interruption to what you take for granted to make you appreciate it more.
Everybody has a #WaterStory, and as a traveler I have many. Water is an issue I have had to think about often on visits to developing countries. When you scoop your drinking water out of a river to drink, with floaties swirling around, despite the iodine tablet you put in to make it potable, it makes you think. When visiting villages in Borneo I too used the village river to bathe in, to wash my clothes, and to drink from. In the Sahara I felt what is was to be parched by the lack of water, and in the Congo I carried 20 lb. Jerry cans to and from the local spring to gather fresh water for use. Sure I got sick a few times along the way, but I always had the proper medication I needed with me when I did. According to the UN around 90% of sewage in the developing world is discharged untreated into rivers, some of those same rivers I bathed in and drank from I’m sure.
The fact is that according to #WaterAid 768 million people in the world today do not have access to safe drinking water. That is roughly 1 in 10 people in the world who do not have access to clean water with which to cook, wash or to drink. Water is something that runs abundant where I live, that is so taken for granted, yet is worth more than gold to those who don’t have it. Water is Life after all.
Access to clean water and sanitation is a key element to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty. Women and girls are most effected by lack of access to water and sanitation. In many areas girls miss out on school because they spend much of their day walking miles to access clean water for their families. Those girls who do make it to school often drop out once menstruation begins if there are no private toilet facilities available. UNICEF reports that 6,000 children die of water related diseases every day. The most susceptible being children under the age of five.
Here are some water facts shared by WaterAid to think about:
- 97.5% of the earth’s water is saltwater. If the world’s water fitted into a bucket, only one teaspoonful would be drinkable.
- For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, $4 is returned. (WHO)
- While the world’s population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. (World Water Council)
- The average North American uses 400 liters of water every day for their drinking, washing and cooking. The average person in the developing world uses only 10 liters every day. (WSSCC))
Saturday March 22nd is World Water Day! Let’s come together to take action. You can use your voice to tell congress to support the Paul Simon Water for the World Act. Or upload photos of you drinking water with the hashtag #CheerstoH20 , do you like mine? You can also use Facebook or twitter to share the message of #Water4all or share your #waterstory.
Water Aid works side-by side with local communities to ignite monumental change by giving them the tools that they need to break down barriers and make water and toilets an accessible reality for everyone in their community. WaterAid has helped 19.2 million people reach safe water since 1981. Learn more about how we make it happen! - www.wateraid.org
I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.