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The Global Water Crisis: Issues of Quantity and Quality Are Only the Beginning


Surface water source for village of Do Digue near Arcahaie, Haiti

Welcome to the first official WaterWoman blog! Our goal is to bring you short articles about the global water crisis and what can be done to help.


Access to Safe, Clean Drinking Water


Water is essential for life, yet hundreds of millions of people do not have access to safe water every day. We are in a global water crisis. More than 140 million people depend on surface water (water above ground, such as lakes, rivers, and other freshwater sources) to meet their basic needs [1]. And, it is expected that half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas (not able to meet the need for water) by 2025 [2]. These numbers focus attention on the initial need for everyone to have access to safe water. But it doesn’t end there. The importance of water extends to issues, such as gender equality, economic progress, social well-being and national security (stay tuned for future posts to address these topics!).


Because the first step in addressing the global water crisis is to have enough clean, safe water, our first topic will be the connection between water quantity and quality.


Water Quantity


For many Americans, water is another “on demand” resource. We shower, brush our teeth, drink a glass of water—all parts of daily life that require the use of clean water. While North America has many freshwater sources and the infrastructure that ensures clean water for everyone, this is not the case for many countries around the world. About 2 billion people live in countries that experience water stress [3]. And, as the world’s population grows, the need for potable water (water that is safe to drink or use for food preparation) is growing.


So, what do these numbers mean? There is a global shortage of clean water that affects billions of people around the world.


Water Quality


While water quantity issues are the most visible (droughts or floods), water quality problems are more often lived with in daily life. Daily use of unsafe water is the reality for billions of people around the world. Sometimes, the only source of water is polluted or salty surface water. Drinking or using unsafe water may lead to a higher risk of illness for everyone and may lower school attendance (if children are too sick to go). We’ll discuss a bit more about how this affects health below.


Poor Water, Poor Health


Dirty, polluted water can lead to the transmission of many diseases, such as cholera and diarrhea. As a result, about 1 million adults die every year from waterborne diseases (diseases spread by water) [1]. These losses could be reduced with access to safe water, sanitation and increased hygiene behaviors. These factors make up about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases and have the potential to prevent at least 9.1% of the global disease burden and 6.3% of all deaths [1,4]. The effect on children cannot be ignored. Diarrhea from poor water quality is the second leading cause of death in children under five, accounting for over 1.5 million deaths each year—more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined [5].


What Needs to Be Done


The takeaway is that clean water, proper sanitation infrastructure and hygiene promotion programs are essential to solving the global water crisis. The majority of these waterborne diseases can be prevented. Fortunately, through improved treatments and preventive interventions, under-five mortality (deaths in children under age 5) has decreased over the last 50 years. But we cannot stop there. We have to increase our efforts to lessen the negative impacts the global water crisis is having on women and children around the world.


How WaterWoman Sustainability Education, Inc. Is Helping


At WaterWoman Sustainability Education, we aim to engage, educate and empower future generations to end the global water crisis. Through water sustainability education, we can get even closer to combating the impacts of water insecurity around the world. We want you to learn as much as you can about water quality and health. Check out a few of our favorite resources, such as, CHI and their Gadyen Dlo program, LifeStraw’s Give Back program and Water.org. Resources like these help us all understand the depth of unsafe water issues around the world.


To help us reach our goals, we’re excited to announce that WWSE is launching its first fundraiser, running from March 22 through April 22, 2021. The money for this fundraiser will go toward the production of the first series of WaterWoman’s adventures. The Adventures of WaterWoman™ is an educational entertainment series aimed at improving awareness, understanding and engagement among young people about the global water crisis. You can learn more about The Adventures of WaterWoman™ here. If you would like to support our fundraiser, please click here for more details on how you can help! And be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming blog series during the fundraiser, which will focus on the connection between water issues and women’s issues around the world.


If you enjoyed this post, be sure to visit our website for future posts and more information at waterwomanse.org.


References


  1. Water Crisis - Learn About the Global Water Crisis. Water.org. https://water.org/our-impact/water-crisis. Accessed March 16, 2021.

  2. Drinking-water. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water. Accessed March 16, 2021.

  3. Global Issues: Water. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/water. Accessed March 16, 2021.

  4. Global WASH Fast Facts | Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene | Healthy Water | CDC. Published November 9, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/wash_statistics.html. Accessed March 16, 2021.

  5. Liu L, Oza S, Hogan D, et al. Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality in 2000–13, with projections to inform post-2015 priorities: an updated systematic analysis. The Lancet. 2015;385(9966):430-440. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61698-6.

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