I live in the Pacific Northwest. It rains a lot here. A lot. It frequently feels like there’s just too much water, everywhere I look. Water falling from the sky. Water in puddles that my children jump in. Grass that squishes under your feet.
Living where I do, it’s easy to take water for granted. Canada has about 7% of the world’s total renewable freshwater supply, which is the 3rd highest in the world. However, we only have 0.5% of the world’s population. This means that, as a nation, we are amply watered. And the Pacific Coastal region, where I live, has the highest water yield in the country.
Given the abundance of water here, it’s no surprise that Canadians use a lot of it. Each one of us averages 343 liters per day – second only to Americans at 382 liters. And our water is cheap – we pay approximately $0.31 per cubic meter, compared to $0.70 in Italy and a whopping $2.16 in Germany. We don’t think about it, because it doesn’t cost us much, and we assume that it will just always be there.
We don’t know how lucky we are. Right now, almost 900 million people on the planet do not have reliable access to clean drinking water. That means that for every Canadian who is taking clean water for granted, there are 30 people who don’t have any. And on top of that, 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. Studies indicate that 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die each year because of water and sanitation related diseases.
This is very serious stuff. And speaking as a mother, it really hits me where it hurts. Women and children are the ones most affected when there is not access to safe drinking water. In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year just walking for water, most of them women and children. And the water they walk to may not even be safe. While they walk, they’re not able to go to school or pursue business opportunities or improve their lives in other ways. Plus there’s the physical toll that hauling water takes.
UNICEF and the United Nations consider lack of access to clean drinking water to be a grave concern. In July, the UN General Assembly declared safe and clean drinking water and sanitation to be a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights. There is work underway to change the situation, and ensure that everyone all over the world has reliable access to water.
Today I’m taking part in Blog Action Day to raise awareness of this issue. But my actions won’t end here, and I hope yours won’t, either. Here’s what you can do to help:
- Click on the button below and sign the petition.
- Fundraise for charities that are bringing safe, clean water to people who need it.
- Advocate with the United Nations, and your own government, to show your support for water and sanitation initiatives.
- Reduce your own water consumption, and help protect your local water supply.
- Tell a friend, or share your concern on Facebook and Twitter.
This is a big problem, and it feels overwhelming. But I choose to believe that if we work together, we can make a difference. We can leave our first-world problems aside for one day, and help someone who really needs it. Will you join me?