By Carina Weyer
In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day. Now, more than twenty years later, World Water Day continues to be recognized as part of the effort to focus attention on the importance of clean water, improved sanitation, and the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
Clean water is something that many of us may take for granted, but without it, health, poverty, nutrition and more are negatively affected, making life for many much more difficult. This World Water Day, you can join the fight to end the water crisis.
What is the water crisis?
Water is essential to life, yet many people don’t have access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Here are some facts about the water crisis:
- 844 million people worldwide don’t have access to clean water.
- Every minute a newborn dies from an infection caused by lack of safe water and an unclean environment.
- Nearly 1,000 children under the age of five die every dayfrom diarrhea caused by contaminated water or poor sanitation and hygiene.
- More people have a mobile phone than a toilet.
- Women spend 200 million hours a day collecting water.
- 31% of schools don’t have access to clean water, which reduces attendance rates.
According to WASHwatch – a database helping the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector monitor progress to the 2030 goal of universal access to clean water – the global water crisis claims an estimated 3.4 million lives every year.
As a result of the crisis, women and children fetch water each day from wells that are often contaminated. The exhausting trip takes hours, impacts school attendance and puts them at risk of violence.
In schools, poor sanitation and access to clean water can reduce attendance, especially for girls. In areas where few proper toilets are available, the resulting lack of sanitation can cause disease to spread. Women and girls are also made more vulnerable without the privacy of an enclosed facility.
What we are doing to help
Though for many the situation is still serious, great progress has been made in the fight to end the water crisis.
Global Impact raises funds to meet critical humanitarian needs around the world. As a leader in international philanthropy for more than half a century, we work with a broad network of private and public sector partners to help the people who need it the most.
Within our alliance of more than 100 international nonprofits providing aid worldwide, many are working constantly to improve access to clean water around the world. Here are a few facts and what they have accomplished:
- WaterAid has helped over 23 million people gain access to clean water since it began its work in 1981. Their approach focuses on identifying and addressing the reasons behind why the poorest and most marginalized people live without these basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.
- World Vision improved hygiene for over 3 million people in 2016 alone with the help of their partnership of over 20 foundations, corporations and nonprofits.
- Water For People operates in nine countries and touches the lives of over four million people by empowering local governments and community members to invest in long-term water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions.
These are just a few examples of the impact our charities have made in the lives of others suffering from this crisis. However, there is still much more to be done in ensuring universal access to clean water.
Get involved this World Water Day
Organizations need help from people like you to advocate for and initiate change. Here are some ways that you can get involved this World Water Day:
- Jerry Can Challenge: Can you lift five pounds of water? This is the average amount of water that women and children carry through rough terrain to bring back to their families and communities each day. Find a five gallon container, fill it with water and then challenge your coworkers, friends or family to carry the jug through obstacles to help them understand the burden that so many face.
- Impact Calculator: A gift to clean water can grow by ten times. Show those around you how this investment adds time to women and children’s daily lives, giving them the opportunity to go to school, grow more food, and join the workforce instead of hauling water.
- Clean Water Fund. By giving through Global Impact’s Clean Water Fund, you will help support organizations working on the front lines to improve forest and freshwater management, build wells and piping systems, install water stations and more. Just $25 provides a month’s supply of clean water to a displaced person in crisis; $50 provides a family with 100 liters of clean water for six months.
World Water Day highlights the great need of improved access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, but this is not the only time that you can make a change. You can help improve the lives of millions worldwide every day.
Carina Weyer is the Director for Campaign Engagement for the Western Region at Global Impact where she supports corporate and nonprofit partnerships through employee engagement and workplace giving. Previously Carina managed global corporate social responsibility at SAP Concur and has also worked in community engagement and healthcare.