How the Global Water Crisis Affects Us All
Water is the most essential element to life on Earth. However, there is a very real global water crisis among us, with people struggling to access the quantity and quality of water they require to drink, cook, bath, wash hands, and grow food, typically in rural areas.
From 1990 to 2015, astonishing progress has been made to make clean drinking water available to 2.6 Billion people, mainly in developing countries. Even with all that progress, there are still massive opportunities available to leverage clean water’s benefits through hygiene education and improved sanitation.
The UN addresses the global water crisis every year on March 22, World Water Day, thereby recognizing its importance.
844 million people globally don’t have easy access to clean water. Without clean water that’s easily accessible, communities and families stand to remain locked in a vicious cycle of poverty for generations. Children don’t attend school and parents battle to survive.
Children and women are affected the most — children as they are most vulnerable to diseases carried by dirty water, and women and girls as they are responsible for carrying water to their families.
Everything changes with easy access to clean water as it is a springboard to growth. Once people can access clean water, they are enabled to practice good sanitation and hygiene. Children enjoy better health, making it more likely they’ll attend school. Parents don’t have to worry about lack of access to clean water and water-related diseases anymore. They can instead water livestock and crops and generate better incomes. Communities must no longer fight about waterhole rights.
Global Water Crisis Facts
Women and girls spend about 200 million hours per day hauling water.
844 million people don’t have access to basic drinking water.
More than 800 children younger than 5 die from diarrhea caused by poor water and sanitation every day.
On average, women in rural Africa walk 6 kilometers per day to collect 40 pounds of water.
Open defecation is practiced by 892 million people.
2.3 billion people don’t have access to basic sanitation.
90% of natural disasters are water related.
A Health Crisis
Close to a million people die every year from hygiene, sanitation and water related diseases which can be reduced by providing access to sanitation and safe water. A child dies from water related diseases every 2 minutes. Access to sanitation and safe water helps by improving health and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. It reduces maternal and child mortality rates, while also reducing physical injury from having to constantly lift and carry heavy loads of water.
Benefits of Clean Water for Families and Children
One of the most effective ways to fight extreme poverty and improve lives is to invest in clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene education.
Nourished Kids: Hygiene, sanitation and safe water help children grow stronger, smarter and taller. As they are not sick, they are able to get more nutrition from food. Families use water to irrigate their gardens, thus providing more nutritious food.
Healthier Families can prevent the spread of most diseases, and this is one of the most effective ways to reduce the child mortality rate.
Improves Family Income: As families spend less on healthcare, they can afford to pay for things like school fees and supplies. Water is also used for activities that can generate an income, like watering gardens and livestock, and making bricks or soap.
Children Attending School: Children that don’t have to walk long distances to collect water will have more time to go to school, while also having more energy to learn. This is especially true for girls, who mostly gather water for the family.
An Educational Crisis
Water for families is often gathered by the children of the household. This means less time allocated to play and school. This is changed dramatically when access to safe water and sanitation is provided. It has been found that school attendance, especially for girls, is increased when the time spent collecting water is reduced. Children have opportunities for a bright future and time to play when access to safe water is provided.
Combining Hygiene and Sanitation with Clean Water
The health benefits of clean water can be multiplied by providing sanitation facilities and hygiene education, like hand-washing stations and latrines. This reduces the spread of diseases. Hand-washing alone has in fact been proven to result in children growing smarter, stronger and taller. The issues of water, sanitation, and hygiene are so intertwined that the global aid community have combined them into one sector known as WASH.
The Effect of the Lack of Clean Water on Women and Girls
In the developing world, the responsibility for gathering water for the home is borne mostly by women and girls. Every day, they spend around 200 million hours gathering water. An African woman walks 6 kilometers on average to collect 40 pounds of water per day. This daily chore leaves her with very little energy for other activities and leaves her with no opportunity to pursue income and school activities to improve their lives or spend this time with her family.
Unless a school has hygiene training, sanitary supplies, latrines and clean water, girls who attend school until adolescence are likely to leave when they start menstruating. Assisting young women in managing menstrual health is not only a question of providing appropriate facilities, but also includes addressing societal norms.
In the developing world, high rates of death and disease among newborns and mothers at childbirth is often a direct result of lack of proper hygiene, clean water and sanitation.
An Economic Crisis
Billions are lost in economic opportunities due to time spent seeking safe sanitation or gathering water. Lack of basic sanitation and water results in $260 billion being lost globally each year. Access to sanitation and safe water at home converts time spent into time saved and gives families more time for work opportunities and education that could ultimately help break the cycle of poverty.
How BLUE Missions Plans to End the Global Water Crisis
It costs around $25 to connect one person to clean water, but we believe its more sustainable to connect an entire community to clean water and sanitation. Our projects can range anywhere from $10,000 - $20,000 depending on the scope and scale of the work. Our volunteer abroad trips subsidize the majority of this cost, with the remaining expenses paid by our community contribution fee.
With our water and sanitation initiatives we’ve connected over 22,000 people to clean water over the course of 100+ projects. We plan on multiplying this number as we continue to scale our operations and the number of volunteers that serve with us.
No one entity or person can end this global crisis by themselves, as the problem is systemic in nature. But working united with other organizations, we know that we can bring this crisis to an end and bring proper hygienic water conditions and sanitation to people in need.