Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hope and caution over worlds water woes

Despite some progress, 1.1 billion people worldwide still lack access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion have no access to basic sanitation.

The world's water crisis was brought into sharp focus this spring in Washington, D.C., at a variety of forums that kicked off with World Water Day on March 22.

"The water crisis is a health crisis, it's a farming crisis, it's an economic crisis, it's a climate crisis, and increasingly, it is a political crisis. And therefore, we must have an equally comprehensive response," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the "Water for the Future" event at the World Bank Headquarters, where she signed a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. government and World Bank to collaborate on water-related areas.

A few weeks later on April 15, the Rotary Club of Washington, D.C., and Rotary Club Paris Academies hosted a "Water is Life: International Summit on Water in Developing Countries 2011" to discuss meeting the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) intended to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

"As we are generating new water sources at a very rapid rate around the globe. At the same time we're failing miserably as far as sanitation is concerned," said Samuel Lee Hancock, president and executive director of the nonprofit group EmeraldPlant. "It's hard to imagine that people are actually out drinking mud in order to survive in many countries."

Indeed, the reality of water scarcity isn't a pretty picture, and has more far-reaching effects than most people realize. More than 5,000 people die each day from causes linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene - the majority of whom are children. The World Health Organization estimates that diarrhea alone causes 1.5 million deaths per year. More >>>

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