For my birthday this year, I’ve been trying to raise money through Charity: Water to give clean water access to those in developing countries. At the time of this writing, we’ve raised nearly 60% of my total goal! That’s crazy to me.
I recently wrote about uniquely Christian reasons to care about this issue, but today, i want to make one last appeal and explain why everyone, regardless of personal belief system ought to care about the lack of clean water globally.
I admit: “Social Justice-y” issues are in style. As globalization and social media collide, our global neighbors are feeling ever and ever closer, and our awareness to global issues is rising. Everyone’s got their own specific concern. What’s yours? Women’s rights? Children’s rights? Animal rights? Education? Poverty? Global Health? The Environment? Global conflict and wars? As Charity: Water points out, this clean water access issue is a primary factor in all of the above areas.
1 in 10 humans on earth don’t have clean drinking water. Unclean and unsafe water is the primary cause of 80% of all disease and it kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. 90% of all of these deaths happen to children.
Many global wars, including the humanitarian disaster in Syria (and also Darfur), can find their root in water access. Notice I didn’t say that the conflicts only bring about lack of clean water (though they do)–the poor water access is part of the cause of these conflicts in the first place.
Further, the hours spent finding, carrying, and distributing water–and not going to school or working–are so numerous that it is a major source of poverty in the world. It severely limits women’s rights, political integrity, and social upbuilding due to the constant time and attention devoted to water rather than other socio-cultural needs. Indeed, there are even more implications for this most basic of issues. Clean water touches everything.
Why people should care
Water, as the U.N. has said, is a fundamental human right, as it’s lack prevents one from the enjoyment of life and every other human right. It is becoming more impossible to ignore our “neighbors” and their welfare. Should not the deaths of 3,800 children every week stir us towards some sort of compassion?
To see the disparity between how easy it is to address this issue and how little the developed countries are contributing to its solution, is shocking (to put it mildly). But this doesn’t just have moral implications for us.
As economies become ever more entwined, developing and developed countries are becoming more dependent on one another. The issues of one cannot help but affect the other. Even on purely selfish nationalistic grounds, it is in the interest of our long-term economic vitality and national security to address this issue head-on and see this task to some sort of completion.
Whether you are more on the Conservative or Progressive side of the spectrum, addressing global clean water access will save us money, prevent needless and costly conflicts and wars, and will promote democratic values as communities experience economic rights and freedom.
What we can do
The first thing we all ought to do is educate ourselves. You can read up on the issue from the United Nations website. Tell others about it. Making a topic of your concern.
But that’s not all. We cannot separate our moral lives from our economic ones. For that reason, if we care about this issue at all, our personal economics ought to express this. To make a real difference in this area, there are so many things someone can do for very little money.
I am trying to raise money through my Charity: Water, through which a $31 donation can give someone clean water. Other great organizations include Water is Basic, Water.org and OneDrop.org. All of these sites have many other ways to get involved as well.
As I looked into this issue (for the first time, really), I was astonished not only by how big the problem is, but how simple the solutions. May I challenge all of us–Christians, Atheists, and those of other faiths alike–to take charge of an issue that is so tangible, so attainable, and so basic for us all.