Water is a basic human necessity. Many of us carry a water bottle or pour a glass on instinct with the "eight-glasses-a-day" mantra ringing in our minds. Yet for a large number of people around the world, the question is less, "Should I take the time to fill my Nalgene this morning?" and more, "Will this be the cup of water that leaves me bedridden for the next several days?" or, "Should I go to school today or go to the well to get water for my family?" These are questions most Americans never have to ask. So why does this conversation matter to us?
Let's give the statistics some legs:
Approximately 780 million people around the world lack access to safe water. That's the entire population of North America. Plus Russia. Plus France. Plus Spain.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 61 percent of the population lacks access to safe water, and in the most impoverished rural areas, up to 90 percent of people are without clean water—causing women and children around the world to walk hours upon end to provide for their families. "Around the world, communities are trapped in debilitating poverty because they constantly suffer from water-related diseases and parasites, and/or because they spend long stretches of their time carrying water over long distances," according to Living Water International.
Water not only affects health, it also affects agriculture, which has implications for food supply as well as international trade and thus, economic stability. Really, water means life, and without it, individuals and communities are unable to thrive.1