The facts speak for themselves:
- Every 20 seconds, a child in a developing country dies of a water-related illness (World Health Organization)
- Waterborne diseases remain the leading cause of illness and death in the developing world. (World Health Organization)
- 46 percent of people on Earth do not have water piped to their homes (National Geographic)
- Women in developing countries walk an average of 3.7 miles to get water (National Geographic)
Shocking, isn’t it? It should at least give you pause as you fill up your child’s glass with clean tap water, or maybe even filtered tap water. Now, try to imaging walking 3.7 miles in the dark or the hot sun to bring home water that may or may not make your child sick, or even kill them. What choice would you have though? Water is life.
I recently signed up to participate in the Clean Water Blogivation campaign. If my blog receives the most votes, I could win an opportunity to be a change agent and join Dr. Greg Allgood on a clean water expedition to Africa and a $15,000 donation to my favorite charity tackling water issues. Much more importantly, each time someone votes for my blog post, P&G will donate a day’s worth of clean drinking water (2L) to a person in need in a developing country. Click on the “vote for this blogger” button above and clean drinking water for a day will be donated each time you vote! (You can vote once a day.)
The task of fetching water defines life for many people on this planet. National Geographic tells the story of an Ethiopian woman named Aylito who dropped out of school when she was eight to help her mother carry water from a dirty river. She spends eight hours a day walking to and from the river, up and down a mountain, three times to carry 50 pounds of water on her back. It is a life almost beyond imagining for most of us who live in developed countries. However, one can imagine that people who work so hard to get so little water have very little water to spare for sanitation, like hand-washing, or washing clothes. According to National Geographic, proper hand washing alone can reduce diarrheal disease by 45%. Many people cannot afford soap though.
What diseases are carried by dirty water? You name it: bacterial diseases like E.coli and Vibrio Cholerea, parasites like Guinea Worm, viruses and protozoa. Some of these pathogens can be killed by boiling, but for many, firewood is scarce. Sometimes, it’s too much water from flooding that causes drinking water to be unsafe. (The floods in Pakistan are causing problems right now.)
The obvious question is, “what can I do to help?” Many aid organizations and churches have programs to help people get access to clean water and proper sanitation, whether it’s by helping dig wells or sending bars of soap. WaterAid is a U.K.-based international non-profit organization that is helping bring not only clean water, but sanitation and hygiene programs to many villages desperate for clean water. The organization makes local women an integral part of the process. Proctor and Gamble, who is running the Clean Water Blogivation campaign, make a PUR powder which can be mixed with contaminated water to make it safe to drink. They have a Children’s Safe Drinking Water program and have been working with a number of organizations to distribute the PUR powder around the world to those who don’t have access to clean water.