How many people are without clean water?

There are many benefits of being born into a developed country that people take for granted. These include access to free or affordable education, consistent access to healthy and nutritious food, and even something as wholly essential as clean drinking water. 

If you had to guess, how many people around the world do you think lack consistent access to clean drinking water? According to the World Health Organization, that number is close to around two billion, or about 1 in 4 people globally.

So around two billion people live in what the WHO calls “water-stressed” countries, something that’s expected to get exacerbated as climate change worsens.

“Contaminated water and poor sanitation are linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio,” the WHO writes. “Absent, inadequate, or inappropriately managed water and sanitation services expose individuals to preventable health risks.”

Rates of progress would need to double, according to the WHO, in order to get everyone clean drinking water by 2030. The thing is that when people are spending a huge portion of their time just trying to meet their basic needs, they can’t be productive in other ways such as focusing on community building, education, or even just homemaking. 

In many parts of the world, women and children spend more than four hours walking to fetch water each day, and more than 840,000 people die each year from diseases contracted from unsafe water.

But there are many organizations trying to help. Beyond the intergovernmental bodies like the WHO, there are nonprofits and charities working to address the water crisis. 

These organizations, including Water for the People, work to build sanitary and accessible water systems worldwide to bring clean access to the people that need it most. 

“We are working toward this ambitious goal by partnering with local community members, businesses, and governments, helping them bring sustainable water and sanitation systems to their communities,” Water for the People writes on their site. “Then we ensure they have the training and tools they need to maintain those systems for generations.”

This has been an ongoing fight for many many years, and it’s a fight that is going to continue, especially given the growing climate crisis. It isn’t an issue that’s just going to disappear and in a lot of developed countries people may feel distanced from that fear but it could end up hitting any community. 

Take Flint, Michigan for instance, which had a water sanitation crisis where nearly every person in the city lacked clean water for years. 

Look out for your neighbor and donate to organizations trying to make a difference, especially with something as important as water.

Charity check-in

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida. This organization helps support the fauna throughout the Florida ocean and nature. Find out more and support them here

Collective Sun. They help nonprofits get outfitted with solar power capabilities. Check them out here.

Florida Bicycle Association. An organization that helps mobilize people and promote greener living and safer biking. Find out more

This article aligns with the UN SDG Access to Clean Drinking Water.