Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Significance of Numbers in Water

1, 8.34, 187, 1247, 60,000, 1.1 billion - if we hear but don’t really listen then they are just random numbers. What is the significance of numbers when talking about water?

8.34 - the weight of one gallon of water. Convert two 5 gallon Jerry cans that has be carried miles from a water source, and that’s 83.4 pounds. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “women are most often the collectors, users and managers of water in the household as well as farmers of crops. Women and children provide nearly all the water for the household in rural areas.” In urban areas, women are often in charge of accessing clean water and ensuring sanitation for their families.

Women and children are most affected when water sources are contaminated or unavailable. They may be required to expend more labor collecting, storing, and protecting their water source, which can leave them with little or no time for other activities, such as an education. The UN estimates that in some parts of Africa, women and children spend eight hours a day collecting water. Water-related diseases are also a common challenge to women, who are often responsible for caring for sick ones and have to step in for those who are ill and unable to work. (Source: Womens Earth Alliance)

1.1 billion - the number of people on the planet who don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water. This not only means no safe and clean water to drink, but no basic sanitation such as toilets and showers. Safe water is not available to provide to schools and hospitals.

60,000 - The number of people in Zimbabwe now infected by cholera, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Cholera has now claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people in Zimbabwe. The epidemic of the disease, has been fueled by the collapse of Zimbabwe’s water, sanitation and health systems. Many hospitals have shut down and most towns suffer from poor water supply, broken sewers and uncollected waste. With the upcoming rainy season even more infections could occur as water sources become contaminated.

These numbers now seem staggering to the point that one might think efforts are fruitless, and insignificant. How can we really expect to make a change?

The answer is apparent when we talk about the positive numbers -

1247 - the number of water projects in progress or completed by 13 partner organizations and funded by charity: water as of January 19, 2009, in 14 countries including Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, Malawi, and more. In case you don’t know by now, charity: water is a non profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations by funding sustainable clean water solutions in areas of greatest need.

187 - the number of cities worldwide participating in Twestival, which was born out of the idea that if cities were able to collaborate on an international scale, but working from a local level, it could have a spectacular impact. “By rallying together globally, under short timescales, for a single aim on the same day, the Twestival hopes to bring awareness to this global crisis.” Twestival is organized 100% by volunteers around the world and 100% of the money raised from these events will go directly to support charity: water projects.

20 - the number of dollars that can give a person in Africa clean, safe drinking water for 20 years. 100% of charity:water funds goes directly to project costs.

1 - the most important number of all, one person becoming aware of the critical need, advocating by telling others, and supporting this global event by attending Austin Twestival or their local Twestival event. If you can’t make it, follow the event @austintwestival and donate to Austin’s efforts at charity: water.

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
- Mother Theresa