Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Special Days– like Secretary’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, or National Umbrella Day –that was February 10, in case you missed it. However, today is World Water Day and that, to me, is something to make us all stop and think. (No cards or flowers necessary.)
Here’s a jarring fact: over 1 billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean and safe drinking water. That works out to one in every eight people. I spent 3 days in a village in El Salvador this summer without running water, and I can tell you, nothing wakes you up to the preciousness of water faster than living a few days without it.
In America, each of us uses about 150 gallons of water a day. We turn on the faucet, and out it pours. In the developing world, it’s common to walk 2 hours to fill up a 40-pound (5 gallon) jerrican to carry home on your head– and that water may very well kill you. 40,000 people die each day from illnesses contracted from unsafe water; 4,500 of them are children. In fact, diarrheal diseases cause 90% of all deaths of children under five years old in developing countries. And now a severe drought in southwest China and Southeast Asia is creating a virtual water famine there.
So today I’m urging you to make a donation of any size – the size of a water drop! – to the water organization of your choice. Here are a few suggestions. The Carter Center www.cartercenter.org has spent decades working in developing countries to bring water to villages and combating water-borne diseases (especially guinea worm, which it has almost single-handedly eradiated). See my post on February 16 to learn more.
Charity:Water www.charitywater.org is a groovy, grassroots non-profit that was started in 2006 and has done a masterful job of using social networking to engage donors on a massive level. In less than four years, it has raised $13 million and constructed 2,321 water projects for 1,048,309 people in 16 developing countries. Charity:Water also invented the Twestival, an offline series of 200 fund-raising festivals organized and promoted on Twitter, and inspired Alyssa Milano to tweet her request for birthday donations to the charity from her half-million followers.
My $100 today will be going to the Acumen Fund www.acumenfund.org for their robust water portfolio, supporting sustainable water projects around the world. Acumen has made leading investments in Water Health International, that has established 285 new community water systems in rural India, giving 1 million people daily access to safe drinking water. Global Easy Water Products is another Acumen equity investment providing affordable drip irrigation systems to 30,000 smallholder farmers in India, that has raised household income $400/year while saving water, energy, and increasing crop yields. And Acumen’s investment in Ecotact in Nairobi is bringing high-quality public, affordable toilet and shower facilities to a population beset by a lack of access to sanitation services.
Not as dazzling as Twestivals, perhaps, but Acumen is out there every day creating jobs, building the local economy, and establishing sustainable water projects that will serve the poor…and I’ll drink to that. Happy H2O, y’all!!