No matter who you are or where you are, water is a fundamental right. Yet, more than 663 million people around the world live without clean access to water... That’s nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide or 10 times the population of the United Kingdom!
Today, on World Water Day, we sat down with charity: water to find out more about the importance of water, the impacts of a lack of access to clean water and what we can do to help because, truth is, the craziest thing we can do is nothing!
Q: What does living without clean water mean for a person or a community?
CHARITY: WATER Says...
The majority of people who lack access to clean water live in isolated rural areas and spend hours every day walking to collect water for their family. Climate, terrain, and lack of economic resources can all prevent a community from accessing clean drinking water. The task of collecting water, which can take up to eight hours a day, typically falls to women and girls, preventing them from going to school and working. Often the water they collect carries diseases that can make everyone sick.
Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. 43% of those deaths are children under five years old. Access to clean water and basic sanitation can save around 16,000 lives every week.
Q: We always hear that water and sanitation is a gendered issue, can you explain why?
Charity: water Says...
At its core, the world water crisis is a women’s issue. In the areas that lack access to clean water, women are primarily responsible for collecting it. For example, women are responsible for 72% of the water collected in Sub-Saharan Africa. They spend a combined total of 16 million hours per day finding water while children spend 4 million hours per day. That’s over 7 billion wasted hours each year, for water that’s not even safe. Devison from Malawi talks about what that’s like here.
Time spent collecting water is time away from school and other activities that can help empower a community. The effect on access to education is notable – 1 in 4 girls do not complete primary school (compared to 1 in 7 boys). Further, because of lack of sanitation, young girls are increasingly likely to drop out of school as soon as they start their periods -- in Ethiopia, 84.6% percent of school girls report no adequate school toilets with access to water, resulting in 52% of girls staying home during menstruation and an additional 19.3% missing some school hours during menstruation.
Q: How does access to clean water change everything?
Charity: water Says...
Access to clean water means education, income and health. Schools have seen a 15% increase in female enrollment when provided with clean water. When communities are lifted out of water poverty, they also gain greater economic opportunities. Women can start businesses, improve their homes, and take charge of their own futures. They can start to break the cycle of poverty and lift up their communities. The World Health Organization estimates that every $1 invested in clean water can yield $4-$12 in economic returns. It even restores dignity to those who often don’t have enough water to keep their bodies and clothes clean.
At charity: water, we believe that every person on earth should have clean and safe water to drink. We partner with local organizations in developing countries that understand the unique challenges and needs in each region and provide the funding to build sustainable, community-owned water projects, such as wells, rainwater catchments, or filtration systems. Our mission is to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in need around the world, and we use 100% of all donations to directly fund water projects.
Q: What can we all do to tackle the water crisis? And how much does it take to change a person’s life?
Charity: water Says...
It’s important to remember that the water crisis is completely solvable. Though it may seem staggering that millions lack access to clean water, the reality is we’ve never been in a better position to bring that number down to zero. It only takes $30 to give one person access to clean water, and at charity: water we work hard to engage with our donors and make giving easy.
One of the best ways to make a difference is by joining our monthly giving community, The Spring. People can donate each month and join a community of world-changers, who are helping us work toward the day where we can say that every single person on this planet has access to life's most basic need. You can also share The Spring film on your social media channels to encourage your network to learn about the crisis and consider a donation.
Visit charitywateruk.org to learn more about the water crisis and join us in the fight to end it.
Photo courtesy of charity: water