Clean water is something many take for granted. We use it all the time: to clean, to cook, to hydrate.
However, for 663 million people across the globe, dirty, diseased water creates a cycle of illness, lack of education, and poverty. Each day, preventable water-borne diseases take the lives of six thousand people.
Clean Water Access has long been on the world’s development agenda. Since the launch of the Millenium Development Goals in 1990, global efforts have given 2.1 billion people access to improved water sanitation. But this still leaves 1/10th of the world’s population behind.
Solving this is the starting point to elevate these populations out of poverty: unlocking education, economic prosperity, and improved health.
Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
Poor water and sanitation conditions are responsible for 80% of illnesses in developing countries. Most of these waterborne diseases aren’t found in developed countries because of the sophisticated water systems that filter and chlorinate our water to eliminate all disease-carrying organisms. Without these systems in place, diseases such as typhoid, cholera and diarrhea run rampant.
Infants and young children are especially susceptible to diseases because their immune systems are not fully developed. Even in developed countries, we might boil water before giving it to children – just to be doubly safe. But in poor countries, the fuel for the fire can be prohibitively expensive.
Lack of access to safe water creates additional challenges for women as they have to search for sometimes remote and dangerous places to relieve themselves. It means a loss of dignity and psychological stress for girls and women. It also increases infant and maternal mortality rates.
440 million school days are lost every year to water-related sickness.
Lack of clean water has serious effects on students’ academic performance and attendance rates. Illness can prevent even the best students from realizing their full potential. And, if teachers get sick, classes get canceled for everyone.
Education is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty; giving children a chance to think beyond the jobs available in their immediate communities and dream bigger.
Women are responsible for 72% of the water collected in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Communities must often travel long distances -sometimes upwards of four hours – by foot to collect water. This burden falls disproportionately on women and girls, impacting their ability to attend school and engage in work.
Girls under the age of 15 are twice as likely as boys to be the family member responsible for fetching water. And as a result, girls are more likely to drop out of school with 1 in 4 girls not completing primary school.
84% of those without access to clean water are rural communities.
Food is hard to grow and even more difficult to preserve and prepare without access to a reliable water source. It takes a significant amount of water to grow food (far more than we use domestically).
The overwhelming majority of people without access to clean water are rural communities, where subsistence farming is the main livelihood. Where water is scarce in these communities, this can lead to hunger and loss of income.
Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 40 billion hours per year collecting water.
The hours lost to gathering water are hours that can be more productively used to work and earn wages. This time cost is often the difference between earning a living and not.
Water is life.
When water is not contaminated, people enjoy better health and spend less time caring for family members that are sick.
When students are freed from gathering water, they devote time to their education.
When women have access to safe water, they can pursue skills outside of their traditional roles and experience greater autonomy and independence.
When water is not scarce, crop loss is all but eliminated and hunger is reduced.
What can you do?
You can make a difference right now by contributing to social enterprises, like Elliot for Water, that champion these issues and market products that work to alleviate the problems and ensure clean accessible water is available to everyone.
Elliot for Water
Elliot For Water is just like Google, the difference is, it creates access to clean water every time you search.
Founded by Andrea Demichelis at the age of 21, elliotforwater.com is a search engine that combines entrepreneurship and humanitarian projects.
Using the same model as all other top search engines, revenue is realized through “clicks” on sponsored links provided in the search results. These links, also known as Pay Per Click (PPC), provide the income for E4W, and this income is turned into donations.
Elliot For Water allocates 60% of the profit realized through the searches on the web to bring clean drinking water in developing countries.
E4W’s mission is to bring safe drinking water to 1 million people by 2025.