Liquid Assets: Providing Clean Water Around the World

Action Against Hunger ensures access to safe water and sanitation while building local capacity for the long term
This little Ugandan girl celebrates her love of water. Photo: T. Frank
Happy World Water Day! This little Ugandan girl celebrates her love of water. Photo: ACF-Uganda, T. Frank

Chances are you’re reading this post at your desk, a bottle of water in easy arm’s reach. If you’re like us, you sip throughout your day—staying happy, healthy, hydrated. You might take a moment to give your ubiquitous H20 a little extra appreciation because this week, on Thursday, March 22nd, is World Water Day. It’s also a great day to remind ourselves that water is not ubiquitous for everyone. In fact, issues with water—its scarcity or its contamination—present a crisis to some 300 million people in emergency situations every year.

The Millennium Development Goal for water—halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation—has been met.

The good news is that the humanitarian sector has made significant progress. Earlier this month, we learned that the United Nations Millennium Development Goal focused on water—to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation—has been met, three years ahead of schedule. Two billion people gained access to clean water between 1990 and 2010. And indeed, Action Against Hunger has been proud to work with some of those people—about three million of them in 2010, for example. Our water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH) programs provide access to clean water, promote sanitation and hygiene, and ensure lasting change by training community members to manage water and sanitation programs themselves.

It’s good progress, but there is much work that remains to be done. Four thousand children under the age of five still die every day from preventable water-related diseases, consuming unpurified water or from sources tainted by poor hygiene practices. And it’s a Catch-22 because it’s impossible to maintain good hygiene and sanitation practices without clean water—especially when it comes to that great disease eradicator, hand washing.

Every day, more than 4,000 young lives are lost from preventable water-related diseases while millions of women and children spend hours collecting water from distant, often polluted sources.

General access to safe sources remains a challenge too, especially in the wake of droughts and other natural disasters, and is a huge threat to communities dependent on farming and herding. At Action Against Hunger, we’re all about combating deadly malnutrition, and know that clean water is absolutely essential—in copious amounts—for food production. Did you know that it takes about 400 gallons of water to produce two pounds of wheat? It also takes huge amounts of water to make feed for livestock, grow any sort of crop, and process meat and dairy products.

By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and it’s possible that two-thirds of the world’s population will be living under water-stressed conditions. Action Against Hunger wants to defy those projections. With your help, we can continue to provide access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene for the most vulnerable of our global neighbors. We encourage you to stick around to learn more about why water matters and how we’re taking action.

Grab a (water) bottle or raise your (water) glass. Cheers to World Water Day.

Tell Us What You Think

What are you doing to acknowledge World Water Day? Were you surprised to learn about the connection between water and food security?