The Negative Effects of Poor Access to Clean Water
Imagine waking up each morning, worrying about something as basic as whether your children will have enough safe drinking water to stay healthy and thrive. As Americans, we are lucky to have safe water readily available, but for countless families across the globe struggling with a water crisis, that is only a dream.
The scope of the problem is huge as it affects 703 million people, or more than twice the US population, and kills more people every year than all forms of violence put together, including war. The majority of these victims are children 5 years and younger, and a child dies every 2 minutes from a preventable waterborne disease.
Poor access to clean, safe water is just a part of the crisis. Additionally, 1 in 4 people globally do not have access to a toilet or the ability to wash their hands, which leads to the spread of waterborne diseases as well as communicable diseases like flu and COVID 19. As a Christian charity, Lifewater International’s mission is to bring safe, accessible water and sanitation to reduce the spread of disease and save lives in the process, one village at a time.
Our approach to solving this critical problem is Christ centered, child focused, and sustainable. Following the example set by Lifewater’s founder, William A. Ashe, we are compelled by the great commission (Matthew 28) to serve the least, the lost, and the last. It is why we are committed to serving hard-to-reach places in countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Cambodia and Tanzania, where families are most vulnerable to waterborne illnesses. With your help, Lifewater provides these communities with hope and the chance to pursue their dreams and thrive as God intends.
The effects of poor access to clean water and sanitation negatively impacts the overall lives of the people and their ability to plan for the future. 80% of water gathering is done by women and girls who spend hours each day walking to collect water. As a result, precious time is lost that could be spent working or going to school. Even collecting water can be dangerous as women are vulnerable to attacks or must travel over hazardous terrain. Women also pay a steep price for unsafe water and lack of sanitation as up to 8% of all maternal deaths globally are attributed to this problem.
In the case of children, 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illnesses. An estimated 500 million women and girls lack the basic facilities needed for menstrual hygiene management. Many schools lack water so often girls do not attend while menstruating, again deepening the educational divide between the boys and girls. Giving children access to safe water helps them feel more confident and offers brighter futures.
For adults, safe drinking water provides the time to plan for their family’s well-being and put their energy into things like building businesses and furthering their own education. As people’s lives are uplifted and economic prospects improve, it not only reduces the amount of money spent on healthcare but helps stimulate the economy long term. In fact, for every $1 invested in safe water and sanitation, a yield of $5 to $28 US dollars is returned in increased economic activity.
Your donation to Lifewater International provides sustainable solutions for access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene training as well as infrastructure and technology. Most importantly it provides hope to families like those in Dodola, Ethiopia, where women walk an average of over 2 hours a day to collect water. One woman from the region, Zeytuna, not only takes several trips a day to gather water but cares for her three young children and is responsible for the family’s food preparations. Despite the long trip through precarious terrain that is especially slippery during the rainy season, forcing women to walk to an even farther source of water, the water she collects is not safe to drink. Zeytuna says, “My biggest dream is nothing but getting a water source at a close distance.” Imagine what a hard-working woman like Zeytuna could do with her life if she was freed from the constant daily worry of water and her lack of time to focus on the future.
Determining where and who we serve starts with “Least-Developed Countries” (LDC) defined as extreme levels of poverty and the lowest human development index, which includes rural communities in East Africa and Southeast Asia. These are places with the greatest need for life-saving hygiene and sanitation practices, where people drink surface water, education is not prioritized, subsistence farming is common, and communities are preliterate.
Lifewater’s sustainable community development approach is designed for more permanent communities as well as those with a willingness to participate in their own transformation. This includes requiring the community to contribute up to 15% for the construction of a well. By relying on the strength and skills already within a community, we empower village leaders to create lasting change from within. Local facilitators trained in our WASH program (water, sanitation, and hygiene) teach families about the practices making them sick and instruct them on life-saving healthy habits.
The good news is the lack of safe water and sanitation is entirely preventable, and with your help we can end this water crisis in our lifetime. The Lifewater website has a list of unfunded projects still in need as well as transformational stories of success. When you give monthly through our Overflow program, you will impact lives each month with safe water, improved health, and the love of Christ.
Lifewater International is a top-rated charity in the United States and is endorsed by independent reporting organizations, including Guidestar, ECFA, and Charity Navigator. We are honored to serve all people regardless of religion, listening first and walking alongside community members as neighbors. Please give safe water today and help us eradicate this crisis village by village.