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.
There remain 16 countries in the world where 40% or more of their population does not have access to clean water – WaterAid
What many of us take for granted, clean, safe water to drink, cook with, bathe in, and with which to wash our clothes, is an expensive luxury to hundreds of millions of people around the world. The cost is not just monetary. 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. Access to clean water is a global humanitarian priority, and world wide awareness of water as a precious resource is needed to tackle the issue. Water is life.
“Clean, affordable drinking water is not a privilege: it’s a fundamental human right. This World Water Day, let’s celebrate the unprecedented progress that’s been made in helping more people than ever before gain access to clean water. But let’s also double down on our efforts so that everyone, everywhere can exercise their basic right to clean water by the year 2030.”-Sarina Prabasi, WaterAid America Chief Executive
Photo Credits: Elizabeth Atalay taken while on a New Media Fellowship trip to Ethiopia with the International Reporting Project to report on Newborn Health.
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 →