Water is more than just two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. It’s the unappreciated ingredient to our life’s very being. Water is the lifeblood of our bodies, our economy, our nation and our well-being. Without it, survival would be a challenge but in an age where we’ve forgotten our origins and have become blind to our needs and satisfying only our wants, water is one of the natural resources that has suffered heavily from our disregard.
Each day, more than a billion people don’t have access to clean water and more than two billion don’t have access to adequate sanitation facilities. It’s a shame as the world’s population expands, those numbers are also growing. The quality of water in the world doesn’t solely influence and shape human poverty, wealth and education but it is an important issue that creates ripples on all aspects of our ecosystem, economic activities and our overall well-being. It is a key role in survival and if we as a world can’t see the major concern for clean water and sanitation now, regret will be on the horizon.
Each day, there are people in developing countries who must make a journey of long walks to get the water they need for drinking, cooking and bathing. It’s a sad truth that much of this water is contaminated.
March 22 marks World Water Day, an annual initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. This year and all year around the world, a huge number of events and activities are taking place to allow people the chance to be part of a world where we can all make a difference and get clean water to everyone in need of it.
The One Week For Water website allowed users this past week on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to take part in spreading the word. Users would donate their statuses for a good cause either through a tweet or an update via Facebook status. Posts feature either water crisis facts and stories, complete with links that head back to the One Week for Water organization in order to help spread the word.
As part of the day which not only raises awareness of the water crisis at hand but commemorates the progress made so far, a diverse coalition of water, sanitation, hygiene and health organizations have teamed up for World Water Day 2011. The primary goal is to not just pinpoint the major crisis and what could be done but calls for tougher commitments and more solid action to make certain of universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation. This year’s coalition includes Food for the Hungry, Lifewater, Save The Children, WaterAid, World Vision, NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council and many more.
One of the organizations involved that has helped hundreds of communities in Asia, Africa and Central America gain access to safe water and sanitation is Water.org. All the projects executed by the organization are community driven and self-sustaining with organizational and financial structure. Having it this way allows the communities to be involved owners in every step of the way, giving them the power of ownership while increasing sustainability and ensure that solutions last.
Co-founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, the organization, with its roots to the WaterPartners organization from the late 90s and H2O Africa, has been creating quite the ripples in the water-related newsworld. One of the key accomplishments made by Water.org is their WaterCredit program which started in 2003. Before they launched the program, nearly all water and sanitation programs were charity-driven.
In an interview with Katie Couric for Glamour magazine this past January, Gary White discussed the WaterCredit program which has fostered sustainability in the communities as well as empowering the impoverished.
“There are a whole lot of people of the billion that lack water who can afford to take out a microloan to get their water connection, to build their toilet. So, let’s get the microfinance people into the water business so that they can meet the needs of these, you know, two or three million with commercial finance, not charity. And then we use the charity to the absolute bottom of the pyramid where people do need subsidy,” White says.
Water.org’s WaterCredit initiative has made access to clean water and safe sanitation for more than 130,000 people, possible, with microloans offered through microfinancing institutional partners. Globally, WaterCredit loan repayment rates over the past two years average 98%.
It is noted that women are the key to sustainable water and sanitation programs. With Water.org’s grant-based projects, all local water committees have female members and with WaterCredit, women comprise 90% of all loan borrowers.
Matt Damon told the Family Circle last November of women taking charge, finding it to be no surprise. “They rally their communities to organize, to apply to our local partners and oversee the project from start to finish,” he says.
No matter where one may live, what social status they hold and the conditions they live in, everyone should be able to have clean water. Our world is evolving so quickly and if change can’t be taken seriously now, when will it? We must be able to control our own lives and protect what is our God-given right. Water is for all and needs a voice.
In an era of globalization, our position as one of the world’s water-rich nations provides us with not only a greater insight, but with both responsibility and opportunity to lead the world in new approaches to innovating, conservation and management. As a source of life, water flows within us and has always been a bridge, drawing people and communities together in hopes to create ripples of action and change.
World Water Day, designated by the United Nations as the day of the year when we shine a light on the global safe water and sanitation issue is March 22 and extends to a week of efforts through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. For more information on how to donate your voice and make a difference, check out One Week For Water. For more information about Water.org check out their official website and follow them over at Twitter, for daily updates and links.
Also, be sure to pick up a limited edition designed Water.org CamelBak water bottle at the official, Water.org site. Not only are the bottles environmentally friendly, but 100% of the profits go directly to support nearly a billion people in the world who lack clean water. Do your part and see how you can help!
- World Water Day Profile: Co-Founder, Matt Damon of Water.org
- World Water Day Profile: Co-Founder, Gary White of Water.org
- World Water Week is Underway
- Twitter's "Follow Friday" - Causes You Should Follow
Follow me on Twitter @westlifebunny