Yesterday, on the 22nd of March 2011, was World Water Day. It was a day to raise awareness for something most people in developed nations take for granted – clean drinking water. Right now, almost a billion people don’t have access to clean and safe drinking water. That’s about one in every eight people. Only after looking at a few more statistics do we really understand how grave the water situation is. 90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five years old.
Water changes everything. It is closely related to the quality of education, food and sanitation facilities in any particular country. In Africa alone, the overall economic loss due to the lack of clean drinking water and sanitation is $28 billion. Every dollar invested in improving water related conditions can yield $ 12 in economic returns. It is amazing what a difference something so simple can make. Water, the elixir of life, a basic necessity, is the main cause for 80% of diseases and kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
How can we as individuals make a difference? There are numerous things we can do. Below are just a few of them:
- Understand how privileged you are to be drinking clean water. The picture on side of this article is actually a glass containing drinking water in it, water that is used by billions of people in developing nations to quench their thirst.
- Take quick showers and learn to turn off the tap and not let the water run unnecessarily.
- Use water wisely. When cleaning dishes and doing laundry, use the right amount of water proportional to the number of dishes/loads you need to wash.
- Water your plants only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than under-watering.
These are just 4 ways. There are countless more, 100 of them can be found here. There are tons of organizations that have been set up to combat the water problem our world faces. Charity: Water, an organization particularly close to my heart, does an excellent job of providing clean drinking water to communities that have been stuck with unsafe water for years. What Charity: Water does is go to communities and build wells in the area. These wells are funded by donations from people across all walks of life- from celebrities like Will Smith, to students from high schools, to working class men, to single mothers. Donating to charity water means that 100% of your donations goes directly to the field.
While it may seem a herculean task to provide everyone on earth clean drinking water, it is important to realize that this is one of the few things where those with the privilege of not having to be concerned about clean water, can actually make a huge difference. You can start right from the comfort of your home.Udit Hinduja is a student at New York University double majoring in Economics and Political Science. As a Program and Research intern with the SISGI Group his focus areas are education, poverty and economic development in Asia and South America.