From World Water Week to waterworld.

It’s the most basic, yet the most important natural resource in our lives. No, it’s not your mobile phone, you can’t drink that and you should stop trying to! It’s WATER, and as  another World Water Week slips by ( I know you missed it again, forgot to set your alarm?!, 5 days in row!) in various anonymity we will luckily give you a breakdown of all the interesting facts that were learned about the global water crisis. Global water crisis?

What are you talking about Alex?” I hear you say.

It’s been raining here since 1996 and my feet have evolved into a pair of wellies

While that might be true, you just have the fortune or misfortune, depending on your perspective, to live in an area that has consistent rainfall. Believe it or not, water is a finite resource, we only have a certain amount and therefore how we use it becomes very important. Especially, when you consider 97% of it resides in oceans and of the remaining 3%, 69% is in glaciers and 30% is underground leaving just 0.3% as freshwater in lakes, rivers, swamps and really big puddles. The rest is in the atmosphere and if it all fell as water and somehow be magically distributed evenly, the entire earth would be covered in about an inch of water.

 

But let’s get serious for just a minute. The World water crisis is a huge problem affecting a huge number of people, there are 844 million people that lack access to safe, clean drinking water and then you add in 2.3 billion people who lack access to a decent toilet, that’s nearly half the World’s population! So you’re telling me that in 2017 nearly half the World’s population doesn’t have access to either safe drinking water or a functioning toilet. The most basic necessity that we need to live, learn, grow physically and mentally and be healthy is in the hands of yes, you’ve guessed it, the wealthiest countries. While those that need it most, people in sub-Saharan Africa make up 48% of those, have a daily battle just to bring water to their families. It’s mainly women and young girls taking the, on average, 6km walk to collect water and in sub-Saharan Africa this equates to 40 billion hours over the course of a year! The knock-on effects are that these young girls are not in school, therefore losing out on an education to improve their quality of life and often the water they bring back is dirty and makes the family sick. If the family are sick they can’t work to earn money for their children to have a better future and so the cycle repeats.

 

So the next time you take a sip of water from your new Yuhme water bottle, I hope?! Just think of the difference of your life to someone in the Central African Republic and how you are having a positive impact on their lives by being a conscious consumer.

After speaking to Adrienne Lane and David De Armey of Water for Good in the run up to World Water Week I was under no illusion of the struggle for clean water in Africa. It’s not that charities and aid agencies haven’t been to Africa to dig wells before, the problem has been that they haven’t created systems to take care of the wells that they have dug. It’s estimated that 60% of water projects in Africa have failed! And think what this must do to Africans, to be constantly let down by the very people who are supposed to be helping them. It creates a cycle of hopelessness and mistrust in organisations that, however well meaning their intentions are, historically failed the people of Africa.

But never one to end on a negative note, this is where Water for Good is different, as are many of the water charities now working in Africa. WfG works exclusively in the Central African Republic, so it does not divide its resources across a vast continent but concentrates its efforts on getting clean water to the 4.5 million Central Africans. Currently WfG supplies 10% of the country with clean water but has recently announced an ambitious goal to end water poverty in the CAR by 2030. With over 90% of it’s water projects working through training local people on the ground and connecting them with local water businesses that have spare parts, WfG creates a system that is both sustainable and long lasting.

This is, from my perspective, why WFG’s model is so good because it gives hope but also responsibility to Central Africans for their own lives. With each small success they can regain their pride and self worth that was taken a long time ago by a colonial system that stripped a continent of its natural resources for its own profit. But much worse, stole the dignity of the African people. Fortunately with charities like Water for Good, companies like us at Yuhme and brilliant conscious consumers like yourselves, we can all make a contribution to the people of Africa regaining their dignity. That’s the beauty of social entrepreneurship you don’t get paid in cash, you get paid in kind. And that’s good for the soul.


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