As we commemorate World Water Day 2018 there is certainly much to celebrate. Since this day began 25 years ago many more people (2 billion) have access to safe water globally. However, 11% of the world’s population still do not have access.
11% of 7.6 billion people. Do the math. That is still way too many people.
There are many reasons for this: drought, arid regions made more arid by desertification, polluted natural water resources, expensive price tags (prohibitive costs of wells & water systems where people live on less than $2.50/day), conflict & water apartheid (swimming pools of oppressors overflow while oppressed people barely have enough to drink.)
Do we think about the scarcity of water as we fill our tubs, wash our cars? Or how ’bout that glass of cold ice water we slurp down when we’re really thirsty (especially after a workout?)
For some folks, that glass of clean water is something they spend hours & hours to bring home (on foot) by bucket.
Then there’s water needed for crops that we need to eat, to live? Ever think about how much water it takes to grow the food we eat? Where water is scarce that is something that must be carefully considered. 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.
As a relief & development worker living places where every drop had to count (managing a shower and washing my hair with a 1-liter bottle of water) and at one point coordinating a safe-water initiative for 14 countries during a globetrotting job, Virginia appreciates that water is a lifeline for people & communities.
More from a younger Virginia (in a Christmas letter, circa 2000) :
“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 challenges, 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…”
To learn more about our current global water crisis, check out this overview on UN Water’s website. The challenges can be overwhelming, but we can do our part to conserve and share water as a precious resource. Run the shower a little shorter, fill the tub 1/2 way, don’t let the kitchen sink run & run. Support a safe-water filtration system for a family or community water source through organizations like WaterAid.
“When you give a cup of water to the least of these, you have given it to Me.” Jesus Christ
If we each put drops – however small – in a bucket, maybe one day that bucket will overflow with safe water for everyone.
Virginia : )
“To defend the earth and to safeguard water is to protect life.” Pope Francis