As a planet we are dependent on water, for our food, for economic growth and as a society. But with the growing impact of climate change and increasing levels of pollution, our water resources have gradually been depleted. With only a small amount of the earth’s water being available for consumption (less than 1%), water scarcity has been named the number one risk to global society by the World Economic Forum. For this reason, it is important now more than ever to take care of our water.
The rapid rise of industries around the world has threatened the water resources that we have. Every year thousands of toxins and chemicals from our factories and homes poison our water supplies, slowly depleting our degree of clean usable water. For example, if a single phone battery reaches the water table, it has the potential to contaminate 600,000 litres of water – that’s a third of an Olympic size swimming pool. Being aware of our wastage and recycling wisely can go a long way.
With 663 million people around the world lacking access to safe water, the water crisis is something that we all have to be aware of. But there is something we can do about it…
At Raleigh we have been harnessing the power of young people to improve access to water and sanitation for the communities that need it most. In Borneo, our volunteers have been building gravity-fed water systems to bring running water to communities which previously lacked a water supply.
In Tanzania, volunteers have been building latrines in schools to improve sanitation in villages and to limit cases of diarrhoea.
Raleigh volunteers have also built countless tippy-taps, a handwashing device, and as a result have seen a large decrease in the number of people suffering from water-borne diseases.
Through the valuable work that they have done, Raleigh volunteers have transformed lives in the communities that they have worked in. Mama Nkapa, a community member in Mgongo, Tanzania, said:
“Before the taps everyday was a struggle. When the nearby river was dry I had to walk around six hours every day to the lake to collect water. Life has been much easier since clean water has been available. We can now clean our clothes, wash our pots and pans and most importantly wash the children. Illness has also decreased in the family because we used to have regular cases of typhoid, worms and diarrhoea, but now there are hardly any.”
Water was declared a human right by the UN in 2010, but there are still large steps to be made in providing universal access to clean water and sanitation. This World Water Day, we are celebrating the gains that our volunteers have made in providing water to those who need it, and remembering that we can all do something to save water.