Water is vital to us all.
Water is vital to all life, and this month we will explore its relationship with climate change and other environmental issues. There are organizations all over the world who work specifically on water issues, from giving grants to scientists in the Arctic to groups of young people educating their communities about cheap ways to conserve rainwater. We want you to use this forum to share your own tips on water conservation, your work with groups focused on any of these issues, and your opinions about what the most important water issues are and what we can do to start fixing them.
What problems are people having with water? And what are people doing to fix them?
In addition to exploring these questions and showcasing solutions, we will have a variety of interesting guest blog posts! From an Ambassador to a young woman in Brazil, and several others, their posts will give you different viewpoints about international water issues. We will also cover exciting world environment days this month: the World Water Forum March 12-17th, World Water Day on March 22nd, and Earth Hour on March 31st.
For background information on water issues and organizations working on them, check out our Resource Page. Click here for our other blog posts on water, and do not forget to check out these great guest blogs by Gary White of Water.org and Richard Dolesh of the National Parks and Recreation Association.
Sambi Bhen waits for water in the arid Indian state of Gujarat. Rapid industrialization has caused groundwater levels to drop, making water expensive and harder to obtain. (AP Images).
Improving the management of water resources and ensuring that everyone in the world has sustainable access to clean water and sanitation go hand-in-hand. I believe that if we tackle the issue of water scarcity from the perspective of the poor—nearly a billion of which face water scarcity now—solutions will roll up into impacting needs at the macro level—water resource management.
Right now there is plenty of fresh water available to satisfy needs for domestic (household) purposes; it’s a matter of access. Most people who do not have clean water access are living in poverty and don’t have access because of lack of financial resources or limited political rights. For example, a woman in rural Ethiopia is walking miles for water from an unprotected stream, when clean water is readily available 30 meters below her feet; her community just can’t afford to hire the rig to drill down. Or, people living in slums in India don’t have any legal right to the land they live on and thus, don’t have any right to connect to the municipal water utility. In regard to sanitation, providing sanitary facilities will help to decrease pollution of water resources, which are often contaminated by “hanging latrines” that discharge directly in ponds and streams and other unsafe sanitation practices.
Solving this crisis requires three main things: (1) empowering people (both politically and economically) in need of clean water to play a lead role in their solutions (2) increased philanthropic and aid capital invested in a way that brings system change and (3) policy changes that allow for better management of water resources and provide equity for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
It’s important to remember that we have made progress. Despite increases in population, the overall percentage of people with clean water has increased. One and a half billion people have gained access to improved water resources in the last 20 years.
Gary White and Matt Damon working on Water.org project (Courtesy Photo)
As an extra component of tomorrow’s guest blog by Water.org Executive Director and Co-Founder Gary White, we have this wonderful podcast to share with you! In it, Gary describes how he views international water issues.
If you’d like to see pictures of Gary and Matt Damon (the other Co-Founder of Water.org) in India, Ethiopia and other countries, check out this photo gallery on our Facebook page.
Don’t forget to check out this post tomorrow for his top three solutions to the global water crisis!
Gary White, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Water.org (Courtesy Photo)
Gary White is executive director and co-founder of Water.org with Matt Damon. His entrepreneurial vision has driven innovations in the way water and sanitation projects are delivered and financed, and these innovations now serve as a model in the sector. White is a founding board member of the Millennium Water Alliance and Water Advocates, a fellow of the British American Project, a member of the Philanthropy World Hall of Fame, advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative, and a Skoll Social Entrepreneur. Additionally, White was named to the 2011 TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the “100 most influential people in the world.”
Check out this short video of Gary that is part of the Innovators In Action Video Series (TakePart): “Making Dirty Water Clean: Water.org’s Answer to a Big Problem – Co-Founder Gary White on getting ‘what we know works’ to people in need.” To learn more about the WaterCredit microfinancing system Gary created, check out last Friday’s blog post here.
Don’t forget to check out Gary’s guest blog this Friday, September 30 to find out the three things that he thinks are needed to solve the global water crisis.