Posted by Roger Lindley on Mar 01, 2019
Clean water is a basic need for human beings. When people, especially children, have access to clean water, they live healthier and more productive lives. However, at least 3,000 children die each day from diseases caused by unsafe water, which is what motivates Rotarians to build wells, install rainwater harvesting systems, and teach community members how to maintain new infrastructure.

While very few people die of thirst, millions die from preventable waterborne diseases, providing the impetus for our members to also improve sanitation facilities in undeveloped countries. Members start by providing toilets and latrines that flush into a sewer or safe enclosure and then add education programs to promote hand-washing and other good hygiene habits.

From the United Nations:
One of the most important recent milestones has been the recognition in July 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly of the human right to water and sanitation. The Assembly recognized the right of every human being to have access to sufficient water for personal and domestic uses (between 50 and 100 liters of water per person per day), which must be safe, acceptable and affordable; (water costs should not exceed 3 per cent of household income), and physically accessible (the water source has to be within 1,000 meters of the home and collection time should not exceed 30 minutes). (Graphic about the cost of water from the Rotary Club of Phillip Island & San Remo, Australia)

At the human level, water cannot be seen in isolation from sanitation. Together, they are vital for reducing the global burden of disease and improving the health, education and economic productivity of populations. 

Water-related challenges:
  • 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services. (WHO/UNICEF 2017)
  • 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. (WHO/UNICEF 2017)
  • 340,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases. (WHO/UNICEF 2015)
  • Water scarcity already affects four out of every ten people. (WHO)
  • 90% of all-natural disasters are water-related. (UNISDR)
  • 80% of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. (UNESCO, 2017).
  • Around two-thirds of the world’s transboundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework. (SIWI)
  • Agriculture accounts for 70% of global water withdrawal. (FAO)
  • Roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production. (UNESCO, 2014)

 
 
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