Children play at a flooded street in Manila, Philippine […]
(MintPress) – Visit any social networking site and it’s hard to miss the hashtag promoting World Water Day — a day where people around the globe are encouraged to think about those without access to clean, safe drinking water and encouraged by nonprofit organizations to make a financial donation to the cause.
Though many people around the world live advanced lives thanks to technology but many people around the globe still live without basic necessities like clear water. UNICEF estimates that about 800 million people worldwide lack access to clean, safe drinking water, and as a result, thousands of children die every day from diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases.
In China alone, there are 320 million people without access to clean drinking water, and it’s estimated that 40 percent of China’s surface water is considered polluted.
In Iquitos, Peru, Cinthia Alado’s 7-month-old son, Andy, has been suffering from stomach pain, and his mother is worried about what illnesses he may suffer from if she isn’t able to provide him with safe drinking water.
“My son has had diarrhoea already five times today because I don’t have clean water in my house,” says Cinthia. “Water costs a lot of money, and I just can’t afford to buy it every day.”
“For thousands of families in Peru, the only option is to buy water supplied by tank trucks and store it,” said UNICEF Representative in Peru Paul Martin. “This lack of access to safe drinking water translates into children having skin problems and exposes them to stomach viruses which produce recurrent diarrhoea.”
Andy’s 3-year-old brother, Lucas, has also been affected by a lack of access to clean water, but this situation is not unique to the Alado family, which is why groups like UNICEF that are participating in World Water Day stress that the problem with water is not just access to water, but water that’s safe to consume.
“When a family has access to safe drinking water, their lives improve enormously, and the risk of chronic malnutrition, anaemia and diarrhoea in children is reduced significantly,” says Martin. “To protect water sources and distribute them appropriately is to protect our children, as well.”
Some like Stela, an African native studying to be a doctor, have to walk four hours a day to get water, but others like Cinthia live right near a water source — the Amazon River — but the river is so polluted, people have to buy water to drink.
“The families in Masusa are extremely poor. Eight out of 10 don’t have safe drinking water, and almost no one has access to sanitation,” says UNICEF Emergency Nutrition Specialist in Iquitos Carol Piscoya. “As a result of contaminated water, three out of 10 children suffered from diarrhoea.”
To counter the health effects of pollutants in water sources, groups like UNICEF often provide oral rehydration salts at health centers in parts of the world where safe drinking water is a common issue. Zinc tablets, Vitamin A and water containers are also commonly distributed.
Other organizations like Greenpeace took time on World Water Day to expose companies that pollute water sources with carcinogenic hazardous chemicals. Investigators from the organization reported they found clothing from fashion brands like GAP, Vero Moda and Calvin Klein tested positive for containing hazardous chemicals.
When the clothes are rinsed in water during the manufacturing process, some of the chemicals leak into the water immediately. Not only does this damage any wildlife and vegetation in the water and become unsafe to drink, but these toxic chemicals also affect farms in the surrounding area.
As a result, some brands like Victoria’s Secret, Benetton, Zara and Valentino have agreed to detox their products to reduce toxic water pollution.