Even if it were 1 million people, it would be a crisis. But it’s not 1 million. It’s 663 million.
663 million people on our planet drink dirty and dangerous water. And they don’t just drink it — they work for it! They invest hours every day. And not only does it keep them out of school, or take up time that they could be using to earn money for their family, it also kills them.
That’s not an exaggeration. Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. But there’s good news too (finally, right?). All of this is solvable.
In places like the Sahel region of West Africa, where it’s often over a hundred degrees, and there aren’t many trees to provide shade, most families rely on thousand-year-old holes in the ground for their water.
Collecting from this source usually requires more than a thirty minute walk across scalding sand — and then a lot of pulling rope. It’s labor-intensive in the worst possible environment for labor, and the water you get in return is water you would only drink if it was your last possible option.
663 million is a massive number. But ten years ago, it was 1.1 billion. Last year it was 748 million. We, as a planet, have nearly cut the water crisis in half. The world is getting better!
And the world is getting better for it too.
Families go from having limited access to dirty water to unlimited access to clean water. They instantly become healthier not just because of the water they’re drinking, but because they get to bathe and wash their clothes regularly. They can wash their hands!
Healthier kids spend more time in school. Healthier men and women earn more money for their families.