A Silent Epidemic

Today, over one billion people lack access to clean and sanitary water. This is an extreme humanitarian crisis that is often ignored by policy makers worldwide. Although it's not as sensational a topic as disease or war, expanding the access to clean and safe water will be one of the defining struggles of our generation. We are faced immediately by two crises: how do we increase access to water (the main ill in developing countries) and conserve existing resources for the future (the main concern in developed nations)?

Dirty and tainted water causes more disease and sickness worldwide than any other factor. In developing nations, one cannot turn on a tap and expect fresh, clean water to flow out. Villagers often have to walk miles to collect water from dirty pools; they simply have no other viable option. The problem in these nations is that the infrastructure for water simply isn't there, and the governments are too impoverished and the people are too remote for any government action. But it is critical to the economic progress of the world that these nations receive access to clean water: it, more than any other resource, enables economic development. More and more, these people are relying on charities to solve their water crisis. Sometimes, a simple well is all that's needed, but even the $3000 price tag is out of reach; charities donate time and resources to help construct wells and educate people in developing countries about proper water sanitation methods. With the help of charities and other NGOs, access to water is slowly spreading, but this isn't a sustainable program - we can't always rely on charity to solve our problems.

In developed nations, water conservation is starting to gain more recognition as a major issue in the next century. Individual citizens need to work to help reduce their impact on this finite resource. Although there's enough water now, as the population grows, there may not be enough left to support us all. That's why it's vital to act now, and reduce your impact on the environment through simple tweaks in your lifestyle that can help ensure availability to clean water centuries into the future.

These two issues have been historically under-recognized on the national and global political stage. But as the recent "green" movement takes off, politicians and people in general are becoming more aware of their role in the environment. Things we take for granted, like water, won't be abundant forever; we need to be conscientious and change our lifestyles to help be active global citizens and ensure our prosperity for the future.



"If there is a magic on this planet, it is contained in water" - Quote by Anthropologist Loren Eiseley