Everyday we turn on a faucet, open a bottle, flush a handle, or even stand around the cooler at work. Yes, everyday, without little thought, we have access to clean and safe water. What may seem as a simple pleasure to us here in the States, is a luxury for many around the world. Unfortunately, many, actually it is estimated that about 1 billion people do not have safe drinking water throughout the world. And even worse about 2.6 billion lack proper sanitation. In fact, many scientists and social workers refer to lack of clean water as an all out worldwide water crisis. It is estimated that by 2050 about a third of the world will not have access to fresh water.
Water is not often thought of as a resource or a commodity, but the truth is, it is both. Water is one of the most necessary natural resources, as we need it to not only sustain our lives, but for farming and sanitation. For some parts of the world, the lack of accessibility to such resource is a major problem. For instance in Africa some 40% or the continent’s population lack access and Asia is even worse at about 53%. These numbers are troubling and not surprisingly many of the water issues have to do with economics and politics, but some are just purely environmental. In many of the countries without proper access, the infrastructure just simply does not exist for plumbing or their lack of water is due to drought in the area, which are sure to get worse in the coming years. Another issue is that for many rural people, they must travel miles by foot to find water in faraway lakes and streams. And worst of all, some are surrendered to purchase bottled water at inflated and unattainable prices.
It is clear, we do have a serious water crisis on our hands. Luckily, there are many people out there awakening to this crisis. This last monday marked World Water Day, which drew the attention of the public and press to these issues. What is World Water Day? It is day to bring awareness to the water crisis from the government and the US public. This year, many major US corporations stepped up and got involved! On top of NGOs out there doing wonderful work to bring access to people, brands like Pepsi, Nestle, and Intel have made public commitments to help end the water crisis. Pepsi has actually pledged to help bring safe water to 3 million people by 2015! We say, way to step up your game Pepsi! Nestle is continuing their program of Project WET of water education for schools, including providing information kits. Ok, so giant corporations aren’t always evil. And even us, tiny, little, Autonomie Project has tried to help this crisis by directly funding water projects in the communities from which we work with.
So maybe you are thinking, “I am not a company, but what can I do to help the water crisis?” The answer is, you can do a lot! The Huffington Post, just recently posted an article on numerous ways to get involved including volunteer opportunities locally and abroad and donating money to NGOs such as Give a Drop and Give Clean Water, just to name a few. You can also contact your Senators and US Representatives and let them know your concerns about the water crisis and urge them to get involved with WASH efforts, an organization looking to bring all people safe water and sanitation. You can educate yourself on the crisis though many organizations listed above but also through this wonderful National Geographic guide, Freshwater 101. Also, don’t forget to spread the word about these issues, which is much easier now with the world of social networking and text messages! The more people educated and doing something about this crisis, the more we can avert the tremendous effects it may have on our world and people.
Safe water is becoming more and more scarce across the world and at home. As mentioned above, in some places bottled water is sold at high prices to combat this issue. Bottled water is not the solution, in fact, it is part of the problem. A wonderful video, just released this week called “The Story of Bottled Water” points to this very issue. Plus it comes with cute animation and music. Check out the video below for more information and let’s help end this water crisis before it is too late.