Most of us turn on the faucet and like magic we have fresh, safe water to cook with, brush our teeth with, shower with and drink.
Living in Michigan and surrounded by the Great Lakes, I never gave water a second thought.
Then about 10 years ago, I was working with a confirmation class, and we decided to hold a fund raiser to purchase a well through the ELCA’s Good Gifts program.
We set out to get all the information we could on how many people don’t have access to fresh water and how it impacts their lives.
Globally, 1.8 billion people – that’s about one out of every four people – drink from contaminated water sources. Unsafe water leads to illnesses that claim the lives of 840,000 people each year, almost half of whom are children under the age of five.
What’s more, women and children spend hours each day collecting water. This keeps them from school, work, and time with family. This keeps families and communities from learning, earning an income, and contributing to the local economy.
In Madagascar, Africa, lack of water means thirsty children and very little food.
[bctt tweet=”More people have access to a mobile phone than a toilet. ” username=”womenoftheelca”]
Also on the ELCA website, we got these water facts, taken from the World Health Organization and United Nations Development Report, 2006.
- Research in eastern Uganda found that a family spends an average of 660 hours a year collecting water. This represents two full months of labor.
- Water-related illnesses result in the loss of 443 million school days each year.
- Close to half of all people in developing countries are suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by contaminated water or unsanitary conditions.
- 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation.
- More people have access to a mobile phone than a toilet.
- On average, women in Sub-Saharan Africa walk more than three miles each day to fetch water for their families. A traditional five-gallon jug, usually used for this purpose, weighs 40 pounds when full!
In the United States, we have been blessed, but for how long? While California has had rain lately, it is still considered to be in drought. In Flint, Mich., mismanagement of drinking water led to elevated blood lead levels in children.
“By weight, the average human adult male is approximately 60 percent water, and the average adult female is about 55 percent,” according to Wikipedia. We need water to survive more than food.
It is time to take a serious look at the resources God has blessed us with, and it’s time to make some serious changes. Learn how in Women of the ELCA’s free downloadable resource, “Being Good Stewards of Water.”
Dawn Smith is in her second term on the executive board for Women of the ELCA. She lives in Midland, Mich., and is a member of St. Timothy Lutheran Church there. Read more of our blogs here.