Imagine how different life would be without accessible clean water. It’s unfathomable. The activities we take for granted in developed countries like washing our bodies and having running clean water in our homes, utilizing indoor plumbing, and drinking clean water wouldn’t be possible — ever. Yet this is the reality of life for 2.2 billion people worldwide, mostly children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that water is considered “the most important resource for sustaining ecosystems, which provide life-supporting services for people, animals, and plants.” Here we’ll examine why clean water is needed in communities.
Why Do Communities Need Clean Water?
Not only do individuals need clean water, but entire communities need clean water, and they need more than just water. Communities need clean water that is safe to use for household cooking, washing, and sanitation. The United States Geological Society (USGS) defines safe water as “water that will not harm you if you come in contact with it.”
The United Nations (UN) discusses five significant reasons that safe and clean water is a vital necessity for communities to thrive physically, mentally, economically, socially, and spiritually. Those reasons include:
- Sustainable development
- Socioeconomic development
- Energy and food production
- Health and survival
- Healthy ecosystems
Communities Need Clean Water for Sustainable Development
Sustainable development meets the needs of people now without depleting resources for future generations. In 2015, the UN adopted seventeen “Sustainable Development Goals” as a worldwide plan to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet by 2030.
The focus of Goal 6 is to ensure that all people have access to a sustainable clean water supply and adequate water sanitation.
Communities Need Clean Water for Socioeconomic Development
Poverty and lack of clean water go hand-in-hand, and a key component to eliminating poverty is having access to safe water. When water supplies are improved and sustainable, it significantly enhances a community’s economic growth and reduces poverty.
Women and children who often spend up to six hours every day collecting water. Because so much time is devoted to that task, it inhibits women from working to generate a livelihood, and it dramatically reduces children’s time for education.
When any part of a community is marginalized this way, its social and economic development suffers. For example, when children spend time in school rather than spending it collecting water every day, it positions them for more opportunities and economically benefits the community as a whole.
Lack of clean water contributes to the deaths of 3.575 million people who succumb to diseases related to unsafe water every year. Some of these people are the primary income earners for their families, and losing them plummets their families into more severe poverty, which can impact several generations.
Communities Need Clean Water for Energy and Food Production
Clean water, energy, and food production are intricately linked. More than 25% of global energy is used towards agriculture for food production. When communities don’t have access to clean water for energy and food production, they resort to irrigating crops with untreated wastewater, which leads to water-borne diseases. It is estimated that less than 10% of collected wastewater globally is treated.
Untreated wastewater is polluted with sewage that contains harmful toxins such as diarrhea-causing bacteria and other pathogens. When this dirty water is used to grow food for the community, the contaminants affect the food supply and its health.
Communities Need Clean Water for Health and Survival
Would it surprise you to learn that more people have died from unclean water in the past 100 years than any other cause? Should we mention what source this stat came from? Countless more people get critically sick.
As mentioned previously, approximately 3,575,000 people die each year from diseases stemming from dirty water; that’s one person every ten seconds, and most of them are children under age five. When communities don’t have access to clean water, they are often left with no other option but to wash with and drink contaminated water directly from swamps. Unsafe water causes water-borne illnesses such as Escherichia coli-induced diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever, giardia, Hepatitis A, and dysentery.
Communities need clean water to stay physically healthy and prevent diseases caused by a lack of adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). When crops are irrigated with water that isn’t contaminated, it leads to healthier people.
Another way access to clean water helps people thrive physically in communities is by reducing the strain on the bodies of women and children who carry heavy water containers while walking for hours every day to collect water for their families. Additionally, there is a safety risk of harm from wild animals and other people when they walk great distances without protection. When there is clean water accessible within the community, it eliminates those risks. Clean water also has a physical impact on human brains, which helps communities thrive mentally.
Communities Need Clean Water for Healthy Ecosystems
Clean water is crucial to healthy ecosystems. Consider that the human body comprises 60% water, and the human brain is 75% water. Then the earth being composed of about 71% water.
A community is comprised of people (and other living organisms) who reside in the same geographical area and live interacting with one another. An ecosystem is broader, including the interaction between people and other living creatures as well as the interaction between those living components and their nonliving environments (water, weather, climate, etc.).
Each part of the ecosystem is integral and necessary to promote the ecosystem’s health, productivity, and sustainability. Part of that includes thriving mentally and spiritually.
Communities Need Clean Water to Thrive Mentally and Spiritually
Adequate access to clean water allows communities to thrive mentally and spiritually. Physically, clean water keeps people hydrated. The brain is composed of about 75% water, and when people become dehydrated, it alters thinking and the ability to problem-solve as circulation slows. This reduced blood flow also decreases oxygen to the brain, negatively impacting cognition and the ability to think clearly. Mood and energy levels suffer, which increases anxiety and irritability.
Having access to clean water provides hope, hope that a living God sees them and loves them. We offer hope for a better future for children and their families. Contact Healing Waters if you’re interested in learning more.
We’re on a mission to end the global water crisis. We build holistic clean water solutions and spread God’s love in at-risk communities around the world, empowering people not just to survive, but to thrive – physically, socially and spiritually.