US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Water, water, not everywhere

By Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Plainly stated: most folks in the United States and Western Europe take water for granted. To most of us access to clean water is as simple as walking over to our kitchen sink and running the tap. In the developing world, however, maintaining reliable access to water for hydration and hygiene can be difficult to flat out impossible. Hours a day and miles walked may be devoted to maintaining even a meager supply of sketchy water or worse, families may be forced to use water sources that they know may be harmful due to agricultural, natural or industrial contamination. The filthy water may be all they can reach.

Water Advocates are sponsoring a program that tackles two problems in the developing world in one stroke, helping young people stay in school and helping them achieve access to clean, life-giving water. Half the world's classrooms currently do not have access to clean water. The Water Advocates ask us to imagine "being a child sitting in a sweltering classroom in Nicaragua and being thirsty. The only way to get a drink of water is to dig a small hole in a nearby riverbed and dip your glass into the seeping pool of tepid, dirty water. During the rainy season you wouldn't be much better off finding a safe drink of water either-the river does return then but the water is contaminated with animal and human feces."

Doesn't sound like a pleasant way to spend a day in class and focus on your education. To counter this global problem of hydration and to remove a basic obstacle to learning, Water Advocates sponsored WASH-in-Schools Initiative (WASH for Water, Sanitation & Hygiene). After just one year the program established clean water sources for 1,000 schools around the world. You can find out more about the program and continuing efforts to bring safe water to school children here and to support a global campaign and U.S. legislation to guarantee clean water for all, visit the One campaign.

Why is the Margin Notes blogged so watered down today? This is my small contribution to "Blog Action Day ," an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking a global discussion and driving collective action. You can probably guess that this year's topic is water.