A glass of water, please

With the US experiencing 13ft plus walls of water, caused by the superstorm Sandy, I thought it might be interesting to look at the global issue of water.

About 70% of our plant surface is water-covered, water grows food, maintains our natural environment and gives us energy, and there’s enough for everyone, right?

It seems the answer is no. Billions of people don’t have water, in fact, according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, 2012, 783 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This staggeringly equals roughly one in ten of the world’s population.

After researching this fact a little more it becomes clear that the problem is that people cannot get to it. This is clearly shown in the fact that 2.5 billion people in the world don’t have access to adequate sanitation, nearly two fifths of the world’s population (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, 2012).

This basic need for clean water is, according to the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, down to funding and a lack of sanitation infrastructure. And, of course, the poorest of the world are suffering the most.  For example, in Africa alone, some 40bn hours every year is spent walking to water sources. And one of the more sad facts is that if you live in a slum in Manila, you pay more for your water than people living in London (United Nations Human Development Programme, 2010). Yet, in order to change this an estimated US$115 million a year is need in Sub-Saharan countries.

Here, in the UK, our history is full of lessons on how clean water can change society. For instance, the 1880s was a time of sanitation infrastructure and expansion of water, this increased our life expectancy by 15 yrs in the following four decades (UNDP: Human Development Report, 2006).

So what of this, more awareness creates more funding, which creates more clean water for the people who need it the most…

I work in a sustainability environment, which is why the current situation in the US prompted me to write an article about the issue of water.

There’s also a pretty cool water game you can play online, click here.