Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren't strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.
90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are in children under five years old. The WHO reports that over 3.6% of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.
In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year walking for water. Women and children usually bear the burden of water collection, walking miles to the nearest source, which is unprotected and likely contaminated.
Time spent walking and resulting diseases keep them from school, work and taking care of their families. Along their long walk, they're subjected to a greater risk of harassment and sexual assault. With safe water nearby, women are free to pursue new opportunities and improve their families’ lives.
Feeding our world takes up to 90% of our freshwater withdrawals. When a water project is built in a community, members can often use the new water source to grow small gardens near their homes and secure their own food supply. Self-sufficient households are less affected by conflict, famine or inadequate government services.
In most rural communities worldwide, women and young girls are responsible for walking to collect water for their families. Building a water project nearby can give women the freedom to pursue an education or earn extra income. Water Committees are often the first chance for women to step into elected leadership roles.
At the end of 2012, we hit a milestone - we reached three million people served. But by 2050, the world's population is estimated to grow by three billion and 90% will be in the developing world. Unless sustainable water solutions are scaled fast, regions already stressed for water sources will be over capacity.
The walk for water that used to take everyone here three hours, now takes 15 minutes. And the water is safe to drink.
A hygiene worker teaches your village the importance of sanitation. Your community builds latrines and sets up handwashing stations.
You join the Water Committee to oversee your village's new water source. As a woman, this is your first local leadership position.
You use the extra time and new water source to start a vegetable garden and feed your family. You sell your extra food at the market.
Your kids spend more time in school instead of walking for water. They graduate to become teachers, nurses or business owners.
A nearby community learns how water changed your village. They petition for a water project too, and the cycle starts again.
“Water is an astonishingly complex and subtle force in an economy. It is the single constraint on the expansion of every city, and bankers and corporate executives have cited it as the only natural limit to economic growth.”- Margaret Catley-Carlson, Vice-Chair, World Economic Forum
charity: water focuses on life’s most basic need -- water. But to significantly cut down disease rates in the developing world, water is just the first step. Almost everywhere charity: water builds a freshwater well, we also require sanitation training. In some communities, we build latrines; at the very least, we promote simple hand-washing stations made with readily-available materials. Clean water can greatly alleviate the world’s disease burden, but only with education and hygienic practice. charity: water is committed to using water as a gateway to sanitary living.
Even in regions prone to natural disasters, water infrastructure has proven to be a smart investment,
sometimes reducing flood damage or disease rates among survivors.
Clean water transforms lives, communities and generations -- and at a surprisingly low cost.
Just $20 can provide clean water for one person.