Water is life, as the saying goes. We rely on water for our food, our health, our livelihoods, and for fun and leisure. But water can also take away life, and the absence of water can be even worse. Currently, 700 million people live in water-stressed areas. By 2025, this number is expected to grow 1.8 billion — about 25% of the world population.
1. WATER PUTS FOOD ON THE TABLE AND MONEY IN THE BANK
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly 60–80% of severely food-insecure people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods (and their own nutrition). This includes farming of crops and raising livestock, as well as fishing.. In Africa, where over half of Concern’s country programs are located, 95% of crops are rain-fed. As we’ve seen in areas like Somalia, just one droughtcan spell disaster for an entire harvest.
2. WATER CAN HELP KILL GERMS — AND CURB EPIDEMICS
Washing your hands doesn’t just get them clean — it can also save your life. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that good hygiene is the best way to prevent infections and diarrheal diseases. As we’re currently seeing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, handwashing is also one of the best things we can all do to curb the spread of a global health crisis.
In many of the countries where Concern works, these infections are a leading cause of illness and death. But a lot of the diseases and infections that affect the communities we work with are 100% preventable, and a little bit of soap and water go a long way towards that prevention. As part of Concern’s water, sanitation, and hygiene programming(WASH) we help provide clean water and teach people good habits so they can stay healthy.
3. WATER ISN’T ALWAYS THERE
Sometimes the biggest problem water poses is when it’s not accessible. For example, drought across much of East Africa has further complicated a large-scale hunger crisis in the region, further exacerbated by conflict. In some cases, water access can even lead to conflict.
Even in peaceful countries, water that is too far away can be damaging for families. Daily water-gathering is usually the responsibility of women and girls. When rivers, lakes, and reservoirs dry up, they must travel increasingly long distances to find water. This can keep girls out of school, and keep women away from taking care of their families or earning income. In fact, collectively, women and girls spend 200 million hours fetching water every day.
4. WATER MAY BE IN SUPPLY — BUT IT CAN ALSO BE CONTAMINATED
According to the World Health Organization, almost 400,000 children under the age of 5 die from diarrheal diseases every year. These infections are often caused by poor sanitation and contaminated drinking water.
You probably know that bacteria and chemical pollutants are bad news, but that’s not the only danger. For example, when freshwater sources are contaminated by salt (which can happen when ocean water surges into freshwater areas), the consequences can be devastating for the crops, livestock, and people.
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