A Cup Half Empty: The World”s Fresh Water Supply

Posted on July 30, 2011 in Environment

By Brian Pape:

I often take my access to fresh water for granted. I realize that I’m constantly wasting fresh water. When I don’t fix my running toilet, when my shower drips, when I walk away from a sink and leave it running, or simply when I pour out an old bottle of water. Then I think of the times I’ve spent in the Utah Desert and when I would hike for days at a time but getting low on water and hoping I would be there soon so I could stop my headache and prevent further dehydration.

What’s incredible about this is what it took to get out to the campsites with water versus what it takes for people in other countries to do the same. According to the World Health Organization, people only have access to less than 1% of the world’s fresh water. When it comes down to undeveloped countries we see that in just one day we find that over 200 million hours of women’s time is spent gathering water for domestic use and a lot of it is from polluted water sources according to the United Nations Human Development Report from 2006. When I think of this I see how I just had to arrive at a campsite in the desert while women in poorer countries travel through deserts for hours on end just to obtain water, and it’s often not even clean.

Sanitation is a serious problem with water throughout the world. According to the same United Nations Human Development Report from 2006, approximately half of the people ill in hospitals through out the world are ill due to problems with unclean drinking water. This results in such diseases as Diarrhea, Malaria, and various types of parasites. They kill millions of people each year. In fact one of the most distressing statistics from the World Health Organization is that 1.4 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. This amounts to around 4,000 deaths a day or one every 20 seconds. I feel if parents in developed nations such as the United States and China would be able to see this statistic, they would begin to outreach to the poorer communities in which millions of people are affected. It only takes approximately 30 dollars U.S. to provide a WaterAid project that would provide people with safe and sanitary water, and with education to help people take simple measures to keep it that way. WaterAid is an organization developed to help people with little to no sanitized water. They help them have steady access to it and have helped over 14 million people since 1981 have access to safe water. Last year alone WaterAid provided safe water for over 900,000 people.

Over here in the United States Diarrhea has become easily treatable with some Pepto-Bismol and drinks filled with Electrolytes, but in undeveloped countries it’s deadly serious. 90 percent of all deaths related to Diarrhea are children under 5 years of age. This easily preventable disease causes millions of death a year to children and people across the globe. With the realization that clean water is not something to be taken for granted and that the need to provide it to others should be a moral obligation of pretty much everyone who has access to it, I would encourage other whose see their faucets drip, toilets, run, hose go unattended, excessively water their lawns, or purposefully pollute water realize that over 800 million people do not have that same luxury and don’t even have clean water to drink from let alone shower, use to irrigate crops, or use in a swimming pool. So when you’re drinking bottled water on a hot day this summer, remember those who can’t even drink safe water and don’t take it for granted.