Clean Water: Taken for Granted

Olivia Detato

Clean water, something so ubiquitous in the United States and developed nations, is often taken for granted by many. I am, in fact, guilty of this. Turning the handle of a faucet to have access to clean water is such a commonplace action that I often don’t think twice when washing my hands or filling up a water bottle. Unfortunately, though, clean tap water is far from the norm for a vast percentage of people on this planet.

According to UNICEF, over one billion people worldwide do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. Countries as close to us as Mexico continue to struggle to provide clean and safe drinking water to the majority of their inhabitants. According to the Water Project, a non-profit organization committed to providing sustainable water projects to people of sub-Saharan Africa, one out of every five pediatric deaths is due to water-related diseases. Additionally, according to statistics reported by the Water Project, 37 percent of the

people that do not have access to clean water are from sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these people, women and girls in particular, are forced to walk miles each day for access to water which is usually not even safe for human use. Waterborne illnesses abide and spread rapidly throughout towns and communities in developing nations. Bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases take a devastating toll on the human population. Access to clean water is particularly difficult to establish in areas where the majority of people do not have daily access to electricity. Without electricity, drinking water is often contaminated with human waste. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.8 million deaths annually worldwide are the result of waterborne diseases, which are contracted through drinking, bathing in or preparing food with unsafe water. Once waterborne diseases are contracted, infected peoples have little to no chance of recovery, since many lack access to healthcare. Additionally, many regions globally are precluded from establishing daily access to clean water because of political instability and lack of education.

Organizations such as the aforementioned Water Project, UNICEF and the WHO are working to ensure access to clean water for everyone globally. Their main tactic is to build underground wells in which water can be pumped. One major problem is to ensure that these wells do not become contaminated. To prevent this from happening, these organizations provide sanitation and hygiene training to local residents. This approach has led to improvements in education and healthcare worldwide. Children are no longer forced to walk miles each day to find a clean source of water and are now able to spend their time in school. Clean water has also led to improvements in agriculture and crop yield that help to fight hunger and alleviate poverty.

To help provide access to clean water worldwide, we can get involved in these organizations through donations and volunteer work. Access to clean water worldwide unlocks unfound potential, restores hope and can accomplish possibilities that one can only imagine.