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The Water Challenge: That Ain't Right! Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Fa Sy, United States Oct 18, 2005
Culture , Health   Opinions
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Every living creature on the planet needs water to survive. In certain parts of the world having access to running water isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. People lack access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation. Can you believe that every 15 seconds a child under the age of five dies from a water related disease? Imagine that your child’s next drink of water might kill him/ her. Imagine yourself living in an area where sanitary water is a luxury. Imagine yourself being part of the 2.4 billion (that is two out of every five) people in our world who don’t have access to adequate sanitation. That Ain’t Right!

In poor areas, children and women have to walk many miles, before they reach the nearest water source, to collect water in buckets. These water sources are also used for bathing, washing clothes and also by the livestock. The water collected in the buckets is also the home of many germs and diseases. Every time that they are taking a drink of water they putting their lives at risk. Every time that they are taking a drink of water they are sending out a message of despair, a cry for help but yet nobody listens. That Ain’t Right!

In some under developed countries the people who have access to running water don’t necessarily have clean water. A few months ago a friend of mine went back to Senegal (West Africa) and noticed that the water was red and even black in some areas. He wanted to know why the water distributed to households in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, was so filthy. He then went to see the mayor to let him know about the water situation in the capital but the mayor told him to go and check with the National water company. He learned that that he needed to pay a fee to file a complaint to the water company and gave up. He met with the manager of that same water company who told him that if he wasn’t satisfied with the state of the water he could go and buy bottled water. Sometimes, there are water shortages for days in the capital and people who have the means to do so buy bottled water. The truth is that in poor countries there is often one water company who owns the monopoly of water. In the case of Senegal, the water company also has shares in the company that makes and distributes bottled water. To gain profits they make sure that few people have access to clean water ensuring a need to buy bottled water. The bottled water that they are forced to buy is not cheap and not accessible to all. That Ain’t right!

A study published by the Senegalese tourism department states that only 56 % of rural and 78 % of urban households have clean drinking water in Senegal. The poor quality of water and shortages is due to obsolete pipelines and a lack of infrastructures. Water shortages are also related to electricity outages that are very common; in fact there are continuous power cuts that lead to water supply breakdowns. The availability of clean water is then often unpredictable; one never knows when he/she wakes up if clean water will be available on that day. That Ain’t Right!

There are few things that can be done to decrease water shortages and to provide people access to clean water. For a country like Senegal, decentralization could be one of them. If pumping stations were built for each Senegalese town then the likelihood of a national water shortage would diminish. Governments could also use foreign aid and private investors to build new pipelines and sanitary facilities. Governments can monitor health education programs to educate people on the importance of using sanitary water and the diseases that could come from unsanitary hygiene practices
Water needs to be supplied not only in sufficient quantity but also in the highest quality possible to ensure human development. It might seem that the world has plenty of water but one would be amazed to know that more than 97% of the world’s water is too salty and therefore unsuitable for either drinking or agriculture. Of the 3% remaining, 70% is locked up as ice at the North and South poles making drinkable water a precious and scarce resource. One might wonder why water is not valued like precious stones given its rarity but like the air we breathe water is also taken for granted.
Clean water is still a luxury in certain parts of the world. According to a study by UNICEF, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund, over 40 billion work hours are lost in Africa in fetching drinking water. Many children, particularly girls, are prevented from going to school because the need to get water, squandering their intellectual and economic potential. Each and every one of us must fight for the world’s access to clean water and basic sanitation. When you take your next drink of water think about the child who is going to die in the next 15 seconds from a water related disease. Think about the little girl who will never go to school because she needs to walk long miles to fetch drinking water. Picture that! That Ain’t Right!

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Fa Sy

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To the point
Antony Felix O. O. Simbowo | Oct 23rd, 2005
Water is life. A large percentage of the human body is made up of water. Without it, life can be grim. Some people have predicted that the next wars could be fought over water resources. How rightly so. There is an abundance of water sources in Africa in specific and the developing world in general. The main problem is poor managemnet of the water sources. If only the developing world could pick a leaf from Israel, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Aarabia on the proper management of water resources, then drought and the resultant crop failures and famine would be thing of the past. These would become miniature dents on their food security situation.

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