Global water perspective, goggles not required
Think about all the different ways you can access water. Water fountains, refrigerators, lakes, toilets, water bottles, garden hoses, swimming pools and a lot more things provide the water that Americans consume every day. In the US, we are never far from access to a safe water supply. This luxury is often taken for granted. You don’t need swim goggles to see that we’re fortunate to live where water flows with the press of a button. This is not a post to guilt you into water conservation. It is, however, important to get some perspective about people around the world who access water very differently than we do as Americans.
It’s estimated that one out of every nine people don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. Interestingly, research indicates that nearly 800 million people face problems related to retrieving and drinking unsanitary water. Nebraska’s population sits around 2 million. You would have to multiply Nebraska’s population 400 times to get the number of people who lack safe water around the world. Water is connected to poverty all over the globe. Providing a way for people to access clean water is an important step to alleviate poverty and improve the overall quality of life in developing areas.
Inefficient and inconvenient water access
First, developing nations don’t have the infrastructure and water systems to deliver water throughout the land. When access to water is limited, women and children must travel for miles to collect water and carry it to their families. To provide enough water for an entire family and its livestock, it often requires multiple trips each day. Not only is this inefficient and inconvenient, but it also puts these women and children at risk. They are vulnerable to attacks on these trips. The time they spend collecting water could be used to work, earning additional income for their families, or study, expanding their education.
Health risks from unsanitary water
Also, many of the water sources in developing countries are not sanitary, so they cause health problems for these communities. In fact, unclean water is linked to diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid. Without proper medical treatment, these diseases can lead to death. When someone gets sick from drinking water, they miss school or work. This creates additional problems for this person because it’s hard to catch up in classes and recover lost income. If people can’t work or get an education, a developing country can’t develop.
Clean water energy
Just like unsanitary water makes you sick, drinking clean water is one of the best ways to promote overall health. Strong bodies are not as vulnerable to diseases and sickness. This is especially important in times of disaster. Many developing nations struggle with political instability and battle natural catastrophes. Coupled with limited safe water availability, people in these situations have a really difficult time getting ahead. If they could spend less effort on getting basic necessities like water, these populations could refocus that energy to strengthen their communities.
Good water is good for business
A reliable water supply will benefit commerce and food production. Water is fundamental to agriculture. Crops and livestock depend on this resource as much as people do. Food and other raw materials are grown and sold, which stimulates the local economy. Sanitation facilities with water for hand washing are necessary for businesses and schools to be successful. Women are especially limited if they don’t have access sanitation facilities during menstruation. Without a way to practice good hygiene, these women are likely to skip work or school and fall behind.
Safe water initiatives
TOMS, the popular shoe brand, has included safe water initiatives in their business model. Programs like The Water Project, Water Aid, Lifewater and other organizations are helping developing countries build sustainable water solutions. A big part of these efforts is building local partnerships. These connections work to educate people about the importance of good hygiene and sanitation habits. They also construct infrastructures to increase reliable water access. Wells are a popular investment, but rain catchments and dams also provide a means to get clean water. Lobbyists and political leaders are involved in advocating for better water systems at every level.
There is hope that one day safe water will be available to people of every economic status around the world. The combined efforts of regular people and powerful organizations are overflowing into progress. Once people in developing nations have access to clean water, they can begin to overcome poverty and build prosperous communities. Swim goggles aren’t going to give you a better perspective on the global water situation, but it’s easy to see why it’s important. You may or may not be compelled to contribute to safe water initiatives, but everyone can appreciate the clean water they access every day.