Water is Life: The Importance of Access to Clean Water

By: Zoya Wazir

Living in a developed nation my whole life, I have had the privilege of water without even realizing it. When I take a shower in the morning, I do not have to fret over the cleanliness of the water or ensure that I only use a certain amount; instead, I enjoy the warmth and savor every drop until my family feverishly knocks on the bathroom door. When I fill a water bottle before school, I do not hesitate before taking a sip to question whether or not it is safe for consumption, but let it quench my thirst without concern. I do not have to even acknowledge its presence in my life because I have not had to live in fear of living without it.

This blissfully ignorant mentality is one that I was unaware I possessed until the water crises began to dominate headlines this past year in the United States. When the situation in Flint, Michigan spread through social media, it boggled my mind as to how people lived without clean water for over two years in a country that prides itself on development. I faced this same disbelief yet again when the #WaterIsLife campaign circulated the Internet, confused as to how the quality of a population’s water supply could not be deemed as a priority.

If clean water is something people in developed nations cannot even take for granted, imagine the plight of those in developing communities around the world who continuously struggle to perform daily activities necessary for life.

In fact, twice the population of the United States lacks access to clean water, equating to 663 million people around the world. As water is a crucial component to the function of a community, the global water crisis is considered to be the number one risk to society worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum.

Access to clean drinking water is necessary for a society to progress from poverty to function, as a disease can be a significant hindrance to the workforce of a nation. If the people of a community cannot provide clean water to their population, a disease-riddled society can emerge that will not be able to efficiently work to stimulate their economy. Therefore, ensuring that developing communities are able to purify and maintain a steady water supply is one of the five components of the Global Hope Network International’s Transformational Community Development (TCD). 

There are several diseases that accompany unsanitary drinking water that can cause major repercussions within developing communities who lack the medical provisions to treat them. For example, diarrhea and cholera are easily spread through dirty water and can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and even death.

Along with drinking water, another major issue that developing communities face on the path out of impoverishment is access to toilets. This is such a basic necessity that is often disassociated with the global water crisis due to the harsh and unpleasant reality of the matter. In fact, 2.5 billion people still do not have access to basic sanitation in the world today. As almost 40 percent of Southeast Asian population defecates in the open, this raises major health concerns and facilitates the spread of diseases within these communities.

Without proper health, a population is rendered unable to progress toward a better future. Clean water is a critical component to the overall health of a society and without it, economic progress would also come to a halt. As GHNI aims to eradicate poverty one community at a time, helping people maintain a clean water supply is a next step toward solving a broader issue.