Starting from a young age, we are taught the vital importance that water has in our lives. We are taught it makes up more than 50% of our own bodies, we cannot survive more than three days without water, how water is, perhaps outside of high intensive exercise, the most hydrating fluid we can have daily. What we are not taught explicitly, is be aware of how lucky we are to have consistent, clean sources of water at our disposal. We are not taught that there is a term for not having running water, the ability to take a shower every day, to cook, to hydrate, to fight illness. This term, water poverty, is a state in which over 782 million people worldwide find themselves. 782 million people that are disrupted from working, going to school, and other basic staples of living in our American society.
- Quantity - If a water source is more than a 30 minute round trip away, then studies show that much less water is brought back (not surprisingly) and so less is available for washing and drinking.
- Quality – The main water quality issue is contamination both with faeces which leads to diseases like cholera, and with chemicals from the ground such as fluoride which causes a very painful disease called flouridosis.
- Cost - If a pump costs too much to keep up, then it will fall into disrepair. This is extremely common. Often, in urban areas, this means that people have to rely on standpipes or water deliveries by lorries. These methods can cost a large proportion of a family’s income, plus the firewood to boil the water also has to be paid for.
These issues add up to an insurmountable situation for water impoverished people, who have little choice but to choose between paying for water or paying for medicine, dealing with constant weakness, dealing with vaccines that are less effective without proper hydration, spinning in a “cycle of poverty”. Disrupting this cycle of poverty is what the End Water Poverty coalition seeks to achieve, and why over 18,000 Ghanians have appealed to the United Nations during their most recent gathering of world leaders this past week. They are part of a petition crafted by the End Water Poverty organization in demanding safe sanitation and drinking water for all. Finding solutions to these problems is a global challenge, but hard, collaborative efforts like End Water Poverty and related organization are paving the way for change, making our wold more inclusive and better conditions for human life everywhere.