Written by Caitlin Duncan, Government Relations Fellow
For World Water Day 2017, we at Feed the Children (FEED) would like to invite you to imagine a few simple scenes. First, imagine a sweltering summer day and how much you would savor a cup of cool water. Next, imagine finally getting to bathe after a long day of work or travel. Lastly, think of getting up early to cook a big pot of oatmeal for your family’s breakfast. Now in your mind’s eye, was the cool water you drank a cloudy yellow color? Did you have to walk a mile or more to bathe in a murky river or pond? Did you consider that your family might become ill from the food you cooked with contaminated water?
The UN has declared access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) a human right. And for many who read this, clean water is so readily available that we may have never considered how different our lives would be without it. Our water is always clear and clean, which is something to be grateful for. However, for the estimated billions of people around the world without easy access to safe, clean water, this lack puts a constant strain on their health and time. Ensuring adequate WASH practices is a key global health initiative, and FEED works diligently to develop and maintain Health & Water program activities to this end. These activities vary from building water pans to collecting water from underneath dry riverbeds; from capping springs to providing safe water containers and water-treatment products.
The following anecdote provides a snapshot of the difference that such interventions can make.
In Northern Uganda, four-year-old Kidega Julius lives in a community where food insecurity had long lingered and the only water source used to be a stream in a swamp, a good distance from his home. The milky-white water was shared communally with all the people and animals in the village. It contained snakes and frogs, and it was unsafe for domestic use. With donor support, FEED constructed two shallow wells in Kidega’s village so that clean water is no longer scarce. Children can drink it, parents can cook with it and everyone can wash with it.
Clean water and proper hygiene also make a huge difference in nutritional outcomes. It doesn’t matter how healthy a child’s diet is, if all the child drinks and washes with is dirty water. That is why our Health & Water projects include presentations, home visits and campaigns to encourage proper hand washing and to teach communities how to avoid common waterborne illnesses.
While Kidega’s life has changed for the better with access to clean water, the UN estimates that more than 2 million people die every year from diarrheal illnesses linked to poor hygiene and unsafe water, and that 1.8 billion people still get their drinking water from a source that is contaminated with fecal matter. So this World Water Day, we at FEED hope that you are inspired to take action on WASH issues. You might decide to generate awareness in your community, donate to programs that provide access to clean water or keep abreast of how your congressional representatives vote to fund WASH initiatives. So how will you celebrate World Water Day?
Read more about our Health & Water work, and consider shopping our gift catalog to provide clean water to communities around the world.