Today is Blog Action Day.
The topic is WATER, namely the lack of safe and sanitary drinking water for a large part of our fellow human beings on the planet. Most of the stuff that has come my way in preparation for today has been overwhelming to me. The statistics are poignant, but also paralyzing. It’s hard to know where to start. You may have read them as well, but I picked out ten things from this well documented list to illustrate the issue.
- 1 out of every 8 people on the planet lacks access to safe water supplies.
- More people in the world have access to a cell phone than to a toilet.
- 3,575,000 people die each year from water-related disease.
- Only 62% of the world’s population has access to improved sanitation – defined as a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact.
- Diarrhea remains in the second leading cause of death among children under five globally (1,500,000 deaths per year). It kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
- In just one day, more than 200,000,000 hours of women’s time is consumed with collecting water for domestic use. This lost productivity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Wal*Mart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger,
- At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
This water issue is solvable, however. The problem is not water supply but water purification. People are dying, mostly, not from lack of water, but because the water they have is their drinking water, their washing water, and their toilet, as well as the dumping grounds for whatever industry is upstream. And there are people out there coming up with solutions as hopeful and as revolutionary as what we saw watching the miners come to the surface. One of those is my brother and his church who are doing work in Bangladesh, among other places. I wrote him as I was preparing for this post and here’s what he wrote back.
The region where we are working is a rural area filled with villages that sustain their existence through fishing and farming, primarily. These are families that live on a few dollars a day. Wonderful vibrant villages filled with awesome people -- so loving and welcoming. We have made so many wonderful friends. We are there offering micro loans, establishing schools (high illiteracy rate), health clinics, agriculture training, eye glasses, dental clinics, distribute mosquito nets (so far, about 5000 have been given out), and general encouragement for the families.What he’s talking about is something that can be done in a five-gallon bucket. Something that is portable, useable, affordable, and doesn’t require teams of NGOs to maintain. Something that could be a micro loan kind of industry for a small village. Something that could change the world.
The issue we have found, over the past three years we have been there, is that the water is killing them. There is no clean water for them to drink and the water coming from the wells is contaminated with so much -- mostly heavy metals: arsenic, mercury. We have been working with some scientists from Dow Chemical, and an organization called Aqua Clara International to develop some way to improve the current technology (which is small, reproducible filters) so that the families can use that will filter these elements. They have made great progress and we should have a prototype on the field in the next year or so. They have done great work around the world to provide clean drinking water for people. It’s wonderful to see. Amazing -- and greatly needed.
We need to support dreamers like these – the ones with big hearts and skinned knuckles – so we can do more than drown in despair and statistics while our brothers and sisters are killed by the water they drink.
Please do what you can. Start by signing this petition.