Water. It's life's most basic need. But there's a water crisis in our world right now. Seriously, a crisis! Nearly 1 billion people live without clean drinking water. It's happening all over the world. Especially in developing areas of sub-saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.
It's a water crisis because it starts with water, but water affects everything. Education, health, poverty and especially women and children.
Let's look at a family caught in the water crisis. It's likely they live on less than a dollar a day. When they're thirsty they can't just turn on the faucet for a nice cold glass of water. They don't have a faucet. Instead the women and children go off to collect water. Many walk up to three hours a day to the nearest swamp, pond or river to gather water that's been sitting out in the open, exposed to all kinds of germs.
Time spent gathering water is time they can't spend learning to read, write, earn an income, or take care of their family. Some women in sub-saharan Africa spend more time collecting water than any other activity they do in the day. And the walk isn't just hard, it's dangerous. The women are alone and burdened with 40 pounds of water. Many get hurt; sometimes they're even attacked. When they make it home the little water they've collected isn't clean.
Some families know their water is contaminated with germs that cause diarrhea, dehydration, even death. But what choice do they have. Kids, especially babies are affected most by these germs. About every 19 seconds a mother loses one of her children to a water related illness and each day almost a billion people are living this way until they get a little help.
The water crisis is solvable. There are solutions. Some are brand new and innovative, like water filtration systems. Some are age old, like drilled or hand dug wells. These solutions bring clean water much closer to the people who need it. A safe water project near a village restores hours each day to a person's life. This time its opportunity. Its freedom to go to school and get an education, to work or start a business, to raise a family.
Africa alone could save 40 billion hours each year. That's the entire annual workforce of France. Clean water means less disease. That's less money spent on medicine, which means more money for books and school uniforms. And if the water project is built near a school, it can increase attendance. Especially among young girls.
The water crisis is vast, but we can solve it. Find out ways you can conserve water. Like using a low flow high pressure shower head. And consider donating to a cause that supports water projects. Because water changes everything.