As we commemorate World Water Day there is certainly lots to celebrate. Since this day began 19 years ago many more people (2 billion) have access to safe water globally. Yaaay! However, 11% of the world’s population (mostly in the poorest countries) still do not have access.
11% of 7 billion people. Do the math. That is still too many people.
There are many reasons for this: drought, arid regions made more arid by desertification, polluted natural water resources, expensive price tags (where people live on less than $1/day the costs of wells & water systems are prohibitive), conflict & water apartheid (in some places one group fills up swimming pools while the other group has barely enough to drink!)
Do you think about the scarcity of water as you fill your tub, wash your car, or flood your swimming pool?
Or hey, how ’bout that glass of cold icewater you slurp down when you’re really thirsty (especially after a workout!?)
For some folks, that glass of clean water is a luxury of the rich, or something they spend hours & hours to bring home (on foot) by bucket.
Then there’s water needed for crops.. For this year’s World Water Day the FAO is focusing on Food Security & how much water it takes to grow the food we eat. Where water is scarce (like the Middle East where I lived for 5 years) that is something that must be considered very carefully.
I’ll never forget an Israeli economics professor from Hebrew University stating, “Oranges are little sacs of water! We’re exporting little sacs of water that WE NEED!” (Of course, the oranges there are the sweetest ever!)
With water a precious resource there are many ways to make it go further: permaculture, crop rotation (& drought resistant crops), better irrigation systems, planting trees to keep the water table working, and conservation.
We can all do our part. Run the shower a little shorter, fill the tub 1/2 way, don’t let the kitchen sink run & run(!) And, be aware as you fill your glass, what a precious resource you have in your hand.
To close, here’s more from a younger Virginia (another cheery Christmas letter!) :
“Visiting communities in areas with lack of safe water access has been a humbling experience. After listening to women in a drought-stricken community of Rajasthan (India) describe the struggle of spending up to 10 hours a day collecting water, they asked me: ‘how do you get water in your country?’ Gee, I just turn on the tap. You can’t imagine the health problems, the deaths of children caused by contaminated water. In East Timor I spoke with Aurelia, a 35 yr old who looked like she was 50. After the birth of her daughter, Rosa, she couldn’t breastfeed so the doctors in the refugee camp put her baby on formula. When Auralia returned to her village, the community’s carefully constructed water system had been destroyed, so she made the formula with river water. ‘I had no choice,’ she told me, ‘I knew it was bad water.’ Her baby died 2 weeks later from diarrhea, an ailment solved so simply here that kills over 2 million children a year, most from unclean water…”
Virginia : )
p.s. There are many great organizations doing lots globally to facilitate safe water access for communities – WaterAid (& most on the list in the Relief Links page above.)
There are also great resources on this UN Water/FAO site, if you’re interested to learn more…
“When you give a cup of water to the least of these, you have given it to Me.” Jesus Christ