Sunday, March 22, 2009

World Water Day

March 22 is World Water Day. World Water Day is an international day of observance and action to draw attention to the plight of the more than 1 billion people world wide that lack access to clean, safe drinking water. World Water Day is still a relatively unknown event.

The world water crisis is one of the largest public health issues of our time. Nearly 1.1 billion people (roughly 20% of the world’s population) lack access to safe drinking water. The lack of clean, safe drinking water is estimated to kill almost 4,500 children per day. Out of the 2.2 million unsafe drinking water deaths in 2004, 90% were children under the age of five. Water is essential to the treatment of diseases, something especially critical for children.

This problem isn’t confined to a particular region of the world. A third of the Earth’s population lives in “water stressed” countries and that number is expected to rise dramatically over the next two decades. The crisis is worst in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The world water crisis is created by many factors including climate and geography, lack of water systems and infrastructure, and inadequate sanitation, something that 2.6 billion people (40% of the world’s population) lack access to. Some of these countries have additional problems, including high levels of poisons such as arsenic in the drinking water.

Many women and young girls in rural areas in Sub-Saharan African and other parts of the world must trek as much as six miles everyday to retrieve water for their families.

The lack of clean water, coupled with the lack of basic sanitation and a dearth of hygiene education, is one of the largest obstacles to progress and development in these regions and across the world.

ADRA, The Adventist Development and Relief Agency, joins the world in commemorating World Water Day, asserting that the pledge to halve the number of people globally without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015, is within reach and that increased action must be taken to continue to meet the needs of a growing planet, both in the developed and developing world. Training, technology and awareness are just a few of the ways ADRA involves itself in providing clean, drinkable water on a global level.

According to the United Nations World Water Development Report, poverty and lack of access to water are inextricably linked, with nearly two in three people who lack access to safe drinking water living on less than $2 a day, and one in three living on less than $1.

Through its water and sanitation projects, ADRA works to break that link, providing families with access to clean, drinking water. By installing and rehabilitating new and existing water supplies, ADRA works to raise awareness and improve sanitation and irrigation systems, teaching beneficiaries to protect their water sources from contamination.

In Burkina Faso, in West Africa, ADRA is improving the supply of clean drinking water to 27 villages in the Bazéga province of Burkina Faso, through its projects, "Teng-Koglogo" and the "Bazéga Women Integrated Project," which are building the capacity of local beneficiaries through natural resource management.

On Friday, March 20, ADRA Burkina Faso, inaugurated 11 boreholes in 11 villages, making water accessible for more than 2,000 people. During 2008, ADRA Burkina Faso repaired 22 boreholes and 12 wells, benefiting more than 6,500 people with no other access to clean water.

"This project has had a significant impact on the project beneficiaries," shared Elizabeth de Santa Cruz, country director for ADRA Burkina Faso. "When ADRA brings water to these communities, it is literally bringing life, hope, and happiness to thousands."

In Paraguay, ADRA recently completed "Agua de Vida," a short-term development project that provided running water for a small, indigenous community, in Horqueta, Concepción, 31 miles (50 kilometers) from the provincial capital of Concepción.

Nearly 400 people benefited from the project, which installed 25,262 feet (7,700 meters) of water pipes, dug a 180-foot (55 meters) well, and provided a water tank with the capacity for 2,641 gallons (10,000 liters) of water.

"We are very pleased about the water that was provided to our community," said Cristobal Benítez, one of the project beneficiaries to ADRA Paraguay. "Water is the greatest need that we have. We all feel very happy, and grateful because of the support we received."

On India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, ADRA is improving the health of 14,000 people on Little Andaman by increasing their access to water for personal and domestic use, installing and maintaining their water supply, improving their water storage, and forming and strengthening water management committees in the region.

"One of the key benefits of this project is its impact on the health of the beneficiaries, which has raised the awareness of the importance of personal sanitation," shared Sameer Minj, program manager for ADRA India. "Through projects such as this one, hundreds of thousands of lives can be saved."

Be thankful today for your clean safe water source, and remember the many people that do not have the luxury of clean safe water and proper sanitation.


  1. Richard, I thank you for this very, very important post. As you rightly say, this is a major issue and nobody really talks (and acts) about it. Therefore, organisations like ADRA (and others) to a great job of helping to provide water to people. They are efficient and show good results. But, it is (in view of the needs) only a drop on a hot stone.

    What makes me angry is that people who have the means rather worry about getting more money. With fishy deals leading the world to the crisis we are living in. One effect of the crisis is that now less money is available to help people in need, not on of water.

    The problem is that there is, basically, enough water around. In the 80ties I was working in the Nigel Sahelian Zone on a water management project. In a few month you will read in my memoirs about it.

    One time I had to for reporting to Washington, DC, to the World Bank. I was talking to a water specialist who showed me satelite photos of the Sahel. Full of water. But, he said, it was to expensive to get out of the ground.

    At that time, there were around 300 billion dollars in the world, laying around. Doing nothing. Just fattening big shots bank accounts.

  2. Thanks for making us aware of all of this. Water is such an important thing in our lives and we take it for granted.

  3. Great post! I KNOW the value of water! We experience the lack of it each year and especially this year! It is something many many people take too lightly and you did a good job raising the awareness!

  4. Thanks for this. I live in a drought area so I know about the importance of water and I know how many peope suffer world wide. We do take it for granted and I fear that more of us are going to find out what not having it is all about in years to ocme because of global warming. Great post.

  5. This is an important day to think about water usage and who doesn't have any. The UN's website is a wonderful resource, too. Thanks for highlighting this date.