By Kelly Reid, Marketing Intern
If you took a hot shower this morning for just five minutes, you would have used more water than a typical person in a developing nation slum uses in an entire day. Almost 900 million people in the world lack access to safe, clean water – a figure equal to three times the population of the United States. Those dwelling in slums spend anywhere from five to ten times as much per litre of water as wealthy people in the same city. More people in the world have a cell phone than have a toilet. These startling facts illustrate that the water crisis isn’t just about drinking water; rather, lack of sanitation, economic disparity, and the disproportionate effect on women and children are all systemic underpinnings of this crisis.
For instance, women around the globe spend 200 million hours a day collecting useable water – sometimes travelling up to 8 hours. According to water.org, that's more than the combined work hours of the employees at WalMart, United Parcel Service, McDonald's, IBM, Target, and Kroger during a one-week period. Imagine if those hours were spent on enterprise and community development rather than on the search for water. Likewise, young girls are much more likely than boys to drop out of school, because when menstruation begins there is a lack of sanitary facilities. This leads to an education disparity and further disempowers young women around the world. Children are particularly vulnerable to diseases brought on by unsafe water, and after only one hour, 180 children die from water-related illnesses. Sadly, the water crisis affects those already the most vulnerable: the impoverished, women, and children. That being said, there is hope. Positive change can happen. Just a few years ago, for example, a child died every 15 seconds because of a lack of clean water. Today, the figure is every 20 seconds. Though it sounds like a miniscule difference, this improvement has saved 1440 children per year. It’s easy to get involved, and it’s imperative that we do, because the lack of community involvement causes 50% of clean water initiatives to fail. It is in our power to create change, and perhaps, as a start, to make that 20 seconds 25 instead.
Ways to get involved:
- Visit www.water.org to learn more about the water crisis and its impact on marginalized communities.
- SHE Monthly is a microfinance organization that provides loans to women for the creation of sustainable sanitary products for girls. Visit to www.sheinnovates.com to give your support and help keep young women in school.
- Sign up for Making the Crisis History and spread the word through Twitter and Facebook.