WHY WATER MATTERS TO EVERYONE:
(Photo By: http://www.nasa.gov)
Water matters because humanity and the environment matters. Water provides for basic human needs such as bathing, growing and cooking food, sanitation, and energy production. Without water, the world itself would not likely survive.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) report that “one-sixth of the world drinks polluted water and one child dies every 15 seconds from a water-related disease.” These stunning statistics illustrates a need to not only improve on water supply and access, but also sanitation.
1.5-million children die each year from diarrhea due to poor sanitation and hygiene. Eighteen percent of all deaths are under five years of age (Catholic Relief Services).
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) lists cholera, dysentery, helminthes, dengue fever, dracunculiasis, trachoma, fluorosis, and arsenicosis as water related diseases that are high in countries with poor water and sanitation services.
Improved water conditions in developing countries can help to save the lives of its citizens, lower infant mortality rates, reduce costs in health care, and also help to enhance the country’s economic growth by establishing a healthy ecosystem, reducing poverty and helping to restore human dignity. This is the aim of the United Nation’s MDG7 (Millennium Development Goal) which endeavors to “cut in half the percentage of people without access to water and sanitation by 2015.” In order for the United Nation to achieve this goal financially by 2015, a minimum of $22 billion/year is needed (estimation by Catholic Relief Services). In comparison to the $1 trillion that went towards U.S. military spending in 2005, the Millennium Development Goal seems attainable.
In fact, in 2005, United States Senator Paul Simon introduced the Water for the Poor Act. The bill title reads: “To make access to safe water and sanitation for developing countries a specific policy objective of the United States foreign assistance programs, and for other purposes.” The bill’s language recognized the global responsibility of the United States to be a proactive participant in addressing the world’s water crisis. Further, it boldly challenges congress to put its money where its mouth is or to use another cliché, walk the walk and not just talk the talk. The Water for the Poor Act, passing in both the House and the Senate, is the first enacted US Congressional legislation that supports and uses the language of a United Nation Millennium Development Goal.
Water Matters because it provides for improved human conditions, safety and sanitation and sound financial investments. Water Advocates, a Washington, D.C. based not-for-profit organization asserts the following:
Improved Human Conditions
“The provision of safe water and improved sanitation will prevent several million unnecessary deaths and avert billions of unnecessary illnesses each year.”
Safety and Sanitation
“The provision of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene also provides a basic level of human security (families do not constantly struggle for their next meal, and children do not die or sicken as frequently). Once that level of human security is reached individuals can work to increase their standards of living (poverty reduction), educate their children and become better stewards of the environment. Human security also reduces the risk of those individuals engaging in activities which could constitute security threats to their own and the world community.”
“In strictly financial terms, the return on investment in water and sanitation cannot be underestimated. Economic benefits range from $3 to $34 for each dollar invested, depending on the nature of the intervention and the country.”
Water matters because we are all citizens in a global community and in order to overcome the challenges of the world’s water crisis, we must join hands with all nations and in the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, “come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny…their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.” (Martin Luther King’s Address at March on Washington, Washington, D.C. 1963).