WASHINGTON, October 29, 2011—One of the biggest challenges facing the world is often completely overlooked: the Global Water Crisis. Clean water is one of the most basic necessities for life, yet almost 900 million people don’t have access to it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in three people are affected by a lack of water to meet daily needs. What’s worse, almost 6,000 people die every day due to a lack of safe drinking water, 2 million people every year. These people suffer simply because they do not have one of the things that the developed world takes completely for granted — clean water.
In the midst of a great humanitarian crisis, people and their families are dying over something radically essential to human life. The effects are devastating. In fact, every four years, more people die from this problem than did in the entire Holocaust. It is imperative that those blessed enough to live in places with safe, clean water, recognize the plight of those in need.
Western culture often focuses on finding cures for cancer and other commonly recognized diseases. However, the number of lives potentially saved simply by improving water quality around the world is much more impressive. According to the UNECE, more than 30 million cases of water-related disease outbreaks could be avoided annually, just by implementing adequate water and sanitation.
This crisis isn’t solely a humanitarian problem. It’s a large-scale, global economic disaster. For example, UNICEF estimates that in Africa, around 40 billion work hours are lost every year on the time people spend traveling long distances to retrieve filthy, dirty water. This time could be better spent improving economic, health, sanitation, education, and living standards. The wasted economic potential of billions of individuals facing this problem is astounding. WHO estimates that that every dollar invested in clean water programs leads to up to eight dollars in economic benefits.
However, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) exist which are committed to solving this problem. For example, Water Missions International (WMI) is a local nonprofit that provides clean drinking water to people around the world who lack access to clean water facilities. WMI produces and donates large sustainable solar-powered water filters, which are capable of providing enough water for villages of up to 5,000 people.
Another NGO committed to this purpose is Living Water International. While focused on the same problem, their approach is slightly different. Living Water generally installs wells in communities throughout the world, while spreading their faith-based message of the Gospel.
Both of these organizations have recently instituted creative new ways to spread the message about the crisis. One of the ways is by using activism on college campuses by teaming with groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to promote their projects.
Water Missions has come out with a new project called “I Am The Remedy,” which is an awareness campaign. It is based on four main steps: realization of the problem, giving a matched donation through financial means, or volunteering, wearing a free Water Missions wristband, and ordering wristbands for your friends and family to spread the word.
Living Water recently instituted their remarkably successful project called “10 Days.” This project saw thousands of college students wear a “10 Days” bracelet for 10 days in October. Pledging not to drink anything but water for 10 days, these students were able to donate everything that they would have otherwise spent on other drinks to those in need.
There is a great opportunity for the international community to help with this dire need. Raising awareness alone will do nothing. However, raising awareness about how individuals, businesses, organizations, and governments can help is crucial to solving this global crisis.
John Paul Cassil studies Management/Entrepreneurship and Political Science at Clemson University. A former U.S. House of Representatives Page, Cassil has since worked on conservative campaigns and in Congress for Congresswoman Foxx.
Cassil is the Managing Editor of the Tiger Town Observer, Clemson’s Conservative Journal of News and Opinion. He regularly speaks about activism at national conservative conferences.
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