water news roundup: babies + cyclones + local heroes

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On Fridays, we’ll recap the week’s news relative to the water sector. Have news to add? Email us.

First, the good news: In 20 years, childhood mortality rates have dropped by 35%.

“Previous estimates had shown child deaths falling slowly and neonatal deaths nearly at a standstill. We were able to double the amount of data and improve the accuracy of our estimates to find that children are doing better today than at any time in recent history, especially in the first month of life.”

– Julie Knoll Rajaratnam, IHME Assist. Prof. of Global Health
The study published last week shows deaths to children younger than five years have dropped from 11.9 million (1990) to 7.7 million (2010). That’s much more than was expected — and it puts 31 developing nations on the road to meeting the fourth Millennium Development Goal, which is to reduce child deaths by 66% between 1990 and 2015.

Ethiopia — where we’ve built more projects than any other country — stands out as a major breakthrough. In 1990, it had one of the highest under-five mortality rates in the world. Now, that rate is cut in half.

Next: the Economist’s special report on the water crisis.

Hopefully, you’ve already see this, as it came out in their May 22 issue. It’s 14 pages long, so it may take you a bit, but it’s definitely worth reading the whole thing. Our favorite section is “Enough is not Enough; It must also be clean,” which covers how water affects everything in life, from a country’s disease rates to their entire economy. You’ll probably recognized some of this from our overview of how clean water impacts a community.

Also compelling — the first section, “For want of a drink.” The author explains that “water use” is somewhat of a tricky concept, compared to use of other natural resources:


“If your car runs out of petrol, you have used a tankful. The petrol has been broken down and will not soon be reconstituted. But if you drain a tank of water for your shower, have you used it? Yes… but not in the sense of rendered incapable of further use. Water is not the new oil.”

Yes, water reserves may be running low. In some areas, they were already too low for dense populations. But there’s hope in using and reusing what we have. We can filter, distill or purify our existing water sources to make it safe to drink. Some of charity: water’s solutions rely on this concept — our BioSand filter program in Cambodia is a great example. Learn more about that here.

The BBC recognizes Cyclone Aila, one year later.

BBC covers cyclone one year later

The BBC gives a glimpse of the water conditions a year after the storm that was said to have affected about 2.3 million people in Bangladesh, India and Myanmar. Clean water is scarce; light rainfall in the last eight months hasn’t helped. charity: water started working in Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr, which struck the country about a 18 months before Aila. Read our January 2009 blog post about the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr here.

hope mural

Finally: we’re keeping it local.

We try to keep up with our mycharity: water fundraisers, who make their local press constantly for their inspiring or unique campaign ideas. Here are a few from the week… feel free to comment with more, or send them our way via email:

From Hawthorne Woods, Illinois: Elementary students are painting, then auctioning off a “Hope Mural” for water.

From Tigard, Oregon: Fifth-graders hold a garage sale for water.

From East Brunswick, N.J.: Eighth graders give up presents and craft angels for water.

From Scarsdale, NY: Two teenagers lead their school in a Walk for Water.

Anything we missed this week? Just comment to let us know.

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