A World Water Problem


Posted: April 23, 2007

HAVING JUST started to dry out from the Nor'easter, water might not seem like a huge problem to most people in the Delaware Valley.

But given that this is Earth Week, it seems fitting to focus on this natural resource, because it's something only a few us us can take for granted.

Water is something we've got plenty of, and when the rain comes down, it's something we rarely are happy to see. And yet, for billions of people around the world, there is a water crisis that has quietly become the biggest killer on earth.

About 3,900 children died yesterday because they didn't have access to clean drinking water.

That's more than died on 9/11. UNICEF estimates that in 1993 alone, 3.8 million children under the age of five died from diarrhea resulting from ingesting waterborne pathogens.

That's more than all the deaths resulting from the war in Iraq, which is heading into its fifth year.

More than 1.4 billion people don't have access to clean drinking water and water-related diseases are the number one cause of death in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all sicknesses in the world are attributable to unclean water.

The problem is fairly simple – there's not a whole lot of drinkable water on the planet. If you took all of the earth's water, and put it into a gallon jug, the drinkable portion would be just over a tablespoon. For many areas without water transport or treatment systems, people have to walk upwards of three hours, just to get access to water they need to live.

Maybe it's not a problem that's attracted the star power that AIDS in Africa or Global Warming has, but the lack of drinkable water around the globe is an even more deadly problem that, fortunately, is much more easily combated.

Organizations like Water.org are doing important and impressive work to bring water systems to the poorest people of the world.

Next time we've got some heavy downpours, and you're inside taking a bath, making coffee, or running the washer, take a moment to think about those who would give anything for just a sip of clean water. Then,send a few bucks to groups working on an attainable solution. *

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