You know those moments on a hot summer’s day when you’ve been outside a bit too long working on your garden or playing with the kids? The sun is intense, you’re sweaty and thirsty. So thirsty in fact, that your mind cannot think of one other thing except a long cool glass of water. As you take that drink, and you guzzle the entire glass, you don’t think for one second about whether it’s clean, whether there are deadly diseases in the liquid, whether your children are safe to use it.
748 million people around the world can’t do that today. Today is World Water Day and UNICEF, amongst many others, are calling for more attention, effort and energy around bringing something as simple as a glass of clean drinking water to everyone.
“The story of access to drinking water since 1990 has been one of tremendous progress in the face of incredible odds,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programmes. “But there is more to do. Water is the very essence of life and yet three-quarters of a billion people – mostly the poor and the marginalized – still today are deprived of this most basic human right.”
Here’s the good news: since 1990, some 2.3 billion people have gained access to improved sources of drinking water. The world set a goal in 2000 to halve the percentage of global population without access to clean drinking water by 2015 and we hit that target in 2010! According to the UN, there are now only three countries – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea – where more than half the population do not have improved drinking water.
However, we can’t stop now. “For children, lack of access to safe water can be tragic. On average, nearly 1,000 kids die every day from diarrhoeal diseases linked to unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, or poor hygiene,” says UNICEF.
For women and girls, collecting water cuts into time they can spend going to school and studying. In hot spots, it also puts them at risk of violence and attack. UNICEF estimates that in Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year just walking to collect water. World Water Day partners are determined to change that. Here’s what you can do to spread the word.
Take Action Challenge
Write on a piece of paper what #wateris to you. Then take a photo or make a video, tag with the hashtag #wateris, and upload it to Facebook, Twitter, Vine or Instagram. UNICEF will share some of the photos around the world!
Photo glass of water: Guy Montag https://flic.kr/p/3AqaFn