Repatriated Mamas at the fountain, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Julien Harneis’ photostream

According to the United Nations Development Programme:

Globally, almost 1 billion people lack clean drinking water. 2.4 billion people have no access to hygienic sanitation facilities; 1.2 billion lack any sanitation facilities at all. Each day, an average of 5,000 children die due to water and sanitation related diseases, many easily preventable.

Investing in the water supply yields an average economic return of $4.40 for every $1.00 spent. Currently, the lion’s share of the burden of collecting water falls on women and children. Each day, women worldwide spend 200 million hours just collecting water for domestic use. According to Gary White, co-founder of Water.org, “This lost productivity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Wal*Mart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger.”

Beyond the economic issues and disease aspects, in some countries, children are too busy finding water to attend school, girls in particular are forced to drop out of school due to a lack of sanitation facilities, and women are threatened and assaulted when collecting water or visiting public toilets.

By now, you may well be asking yourself, “What can I do to help?”

Amizade is conducting their Fourth Annual Water Walk in Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 9th (April 10th in Morgantown, WV). Participants will carry a water bucket during the 2 mile route in solidarity with, and to bring awareness to, the 1 billion people around the world who do not have access to safe water. Additionally, Amizade supports water projects around the world including:

– Brought clean water to over 300 schoolchildren in the rural Karagwe region of Tanzania.

– Led workshops on the benefits of Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) — a method to produce suitable drinking water utilizing solar rays from the sun.

– Installed a massive 300,000 liter water-harvesting system, including gutters, underground piping, and a solar-powered pump for a new school in the small village of Chonyoyo.

Amizade’s Pittsburgh Water Walk Details:
Saturday, April 9th, 2011
Registration opens at 11:30, Walk begins at 1:00
Duquesne University
Pittsburgh, PA
On the Academic Walk

You can also register online here.

Eric Hartman at his Journey toward Justice blog has much more on Amizade and the world water crisis here. Also, be sure to watch this thought-provoking video created by a Duquesne University student: