Clean water is not everywhere


Water may be a renewable resource as it replenishes itself through rain. But we should bear in mind that only 3 percent of it is fresh, and only a third of this amount is potable. The rest of the Earth’s water is part of the ice caps and glaciers.  Over 700 million people in the world, especially those in populous states, don’t have access to improve water source.  Thus, it is imperative for all of us citizens in the world to be frugal in our use of water.

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Water, sanitation, and hygiene-related diseases claim more than 3 million lives each year, 99% of whom are from the developing countries.

You don’t want to wake up one morning with this kind of water to wash your face with, let alone drink, do you?  

I’m not being grim here, but this can happen to us. Reality is that, at present, 780 million people in the world are already suffering from lack of access to potable water, which translates to a ratio of one in seven persons is deprived of it.

It is true that water is a renewable resource; but we should also take note that this basic life support is finite! Of the earth’s water resource, only 3 percent of it is fresh, the rest is salt water found in the ocean and seas, locked up in glaciers and constant snow cover. . Of this 3 percent fresh water, only a third is fit for drinking.  Research findings also show that water scarcity even occurs in areas that receive plenty of rainfall or freshwater. 

Here are more horrible facts related to world’s water condition:

  • Almost 4 million people die each year due to water-related water ailments, unsanitary conditions, and hygiene-related diseases. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths happen in developing countries.
  • In Africa alone, diarrhea kills five to ten times more people than war.
women carry water
Women and children in developing countries spend around 200 million hours a day fetching water from distant sources.Diarrhea is more widespread in developing countries because of their inadequate supply of clean drinking water and sanitation, aside from lack of access to life-saving treatment, hygiene, and nutritional condition.
  • Diarrhea claims a child’s life every 21 seconds.  Studies show that the disease is the second leading cause of death among children five years old and below. Because of inadequate access to fresh water source and sanitation, children’s death rate is equivalent to that of a jet airliner crashing every four hours.
  • Around 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation facilities or toilets, and around 1.2 billion of whom still resort to open defecation.
  • Contaminated drinking water, and poor sanitation and hygiene attribute to 88 percent of global cases of diarrhea.
  • An average toilet uses 8 liters of clean water in just one flush.
  • Studies made in 45 developing countries reveal that women and children bear the burden of collecting water for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning, and other uses in the household.  Most often, they have to travel an average of 3.7 miles (around 5.96 kilometers)  and spend untold hours daily waiting for their turn to collect water, often from polluted sources, and return home with around 40-pound jerry cans on their backs. Because of this responsibility, millions of them have to forego school or education, locking them in a cycle of poverty and unemployment. When the women get old, the girls have to carry on this task to provide such basic necessity for their respective families.
  • Around half of the world’s schools do not have clean water supply.
  • A simple washing of hands can significantly reduce the chance of diarrhea by around 35 percent.

Given these facts, what then should we do to solve and/or avoid potable water crisis?

As much as it is the duty of the local government to provide the community with water system and safeguard its quality, local residents must also cooperate in such an effort.

Protect the water supply.  Reduce or keep bacteria and other disease-causing organisms, nitrates, or synthetic organic chemicals from coming into your water sources by protecting your well or watershed.  In constructing your local well,  make sure that the ground around it slopes away so that rain and runoff water will not get into it.  Never allow surface water to flow down into the well.

Avoid and/or remove sources of contamination. Do not use pipes, fitting, and other fixtures that contain lead and other hazardous chemical compounds.  Keep your water sources away from possible sources of contamination, like industrial facilities, livestock holding areas, septic systems and sewage force mains, and underground storage tanks.

Apply water treatment.  To maintain a safe drinking water supply, you must treat your water regularly to eliminate bacteria and remove hard water and other mineral deposits. There is no single water treatment system, though, that can totally eliminate bacteria, but you can choose one that provides the advantages you want.

Develop new water supply.  Should you discover that your existing water supply is already contaminated by nitrate, fuel, pesticide, salt, or other organic chemicals, it is best recommended that you start developing a new source, or purchase from an existing water system.  Such move, though, requires assessment by geologists, engineers, and other professionals in the field to ensure that your new supply is safe and protected.

But above all these measures, we should do our personal share of water conservation at home.

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