Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will mark World Water Day on March 22 by recognizing the importance of making clean water available to the nearly 1 billion people around the world who don’t have access to enough safe freshwater to meet their daily needs. CRS is dedicated to this vital public health issue and is an industry leader in water and sanitation programming. To date, CRS water projects have benefited more than 100 million people around the world, and the organization is currently implementing water programs in 40 countries, which will have an even greater impact.
“Developing water resources, particularly community water supplies and sanitation, saves lives,” says Dennis Warner, CRS’ Senior Technical Advisor for Water and Sanitation. “Improved drinking water, health and sanitation can prevent an estimated 4 million childhood deaths per year.”
Millions of people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and diarrhea caused by a lack of clean water is the leading cause of death for children under five in some of the poorest regions of the world. Millions more must trek miles each day to collect water, with this chore often done by children who should instead be in school.
Lack of clean water can lead to poor health, malnutrition, meager incomes and low agricultural productivity. By 2020, scientists predict that between 75 and 250 million people will not have enough water for basic human needs. The current estimates of people suffering from a lack of clean water and unsanitary conditions are staggering:
· According to the United Nations, 2.5 billion people, including 1 billion children, live without even basic sanitation.
· Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation. That’s 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.
· At any given moment, almost half the rural population in East Africa is suffering from an illness related to lack of clean water.
CRS is committed to providing safe, affordable and sustainable water to those we serve.
In Ethiopia alone, CRS has helped construct more than 665 water source projects, and has used drilling rigs to construct 372 boreholes, providing more than 3 million people with access to clean water. In Central America, CRS is part of an initiative that has developed 19 micro-watersheds serving 19,000 people in 82 communities. In Egypt, CRS has built pump stations and fitted miles of pipes and drainage lines to connect 7,000 households near Fayoum, helping over 57,000 impoverished Egyptians live healthier lives.
CRS also works reduce the risk of disease by teaching communities about hygiene and safe sanitation practices, and assists farming communities to care for their animals without contaminating their own water source. Equally important, CRS supports irrigation projects in drought-prone areas, increasing food supplies and often incomes for poor farming families. By providing a holistic set of services, CRS helps millions around the world lift themselves out of poverty.
For more information on CRS’ water and sanitation programs worldwide, visit http://crs-blog.org/world-water-day-roundup/.