768 Million People Lack Access to Safe Water Sources
In a city known for its fountains, it’s safe to say that water is an important part of Kansas Citians’ lives. Whether it’s watching the water spouts shoot high above Kauffman Stadium during a World Series home run to splashing through Schlitterbahn or Oceans of Fun on a hot summer day to brewing a Roasterie cup of Joe, Kansas City simply wouldn’t be the same without water.
But that’s not the case in many parts of the world.
While nearly three-fourths of our planet is covered with the liquid, billions of people struggle daily for access to safe, clean H2O. Even when clean water is available, a lack of resources and poor education can lead to its contamination – causing illness and even death.
So, while it may be hard for us to imagine life without clean water, World Water Day on March 22 is an important reminder that we shouldn’t take clean water for granted – and to consider all those living without it.
A K.C. Organization Making a Global Difference
The lack of clean water, along with poor hygiene and sanitation, is a major problem in developing countries. One in eight people worldwide have no access to clean water, and 2.6 million lack basic sanitation. Those who must rely on contaminated water for drinking, cooking and bathing face serious health consequences: parasites, diarrhea, dehydration and other water-related diseases that kill more than 3 million people each year.
But help is available. In fact, a K.C.-based organization, Children International (CI), is smack in the middle of addressing these issues. CI is a global child- and youth-development organization. Its focus is on supporting impoverished children so they can grow up to be healthy, educated and self-reliant with the job skills and drive to break free from poverty. To accomplish these goals, CI participates in a number of wide-ranging water, sanitation and hygiene projects.
Alliance with Planet Water Foundation
CI teamed up with nonprofit international development organization Planet Water Foundation in 2013 to bring clean water to the impoverished communities that CI serves. Planet Water’s community-based water-filtration systems, known as AquaTowers, can be installed in a single day, require only simple maintenance and are a highly sustainable solution. Each AquaTower provides clean water for 1,000 people on a daily basis. The two organizations also educate communities on the importance of drinking clean, safe water, protecting against germs and proper hand-washing. CI’s Youth Health Corps is a critical component of the program’s success. Its teen participants educate other youth on health and safety issues and train them to become peer educators who spread life-saving health messages to the community at-large.
To date, CI and Planet Water have built 28 AquaTowers in the Philippines and India, providing clean water and hygiene education to more than 28,000 people.
Youth Health Ambassadors Program
New this year, Children International is launching a Youth Health Ambassador program to bring water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education to thousands more people. The program, which will use a curriculum created by CI and Planet Water, equips members of CI’s Youth Health Corps to teach younger children and their caregivers about health and hygiene. The program will include five workshops on topics from germs and personal hygiene to hand-washing, safe water consumption and conservation, and will feature furry friends from Sesame Street thanks to Planet Water’s partnership with Sesame Workshop. While the young ambassadors will teach most lessons at CI’s community centers, a mobile component will allow them to educate children and adults at schools, churches and homes, as well.
Help Those in Need
This month, leading up to World Water Day on March 22, take a moment to truly appreciate clean water and the health benefits it provides. Then, consider taking action to help others! Children International is currently developing future water and sanitation projects that have the potential of impacting even more people. In order to implement these future projects, Children International needs your help. Visit the CI website for opportunities to get involved or donate to a project. www.children.org/water-sanitation-and-hygiene