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The Rippling Effects of Clean Water

When was the last time you were thirsty? I mean, really thirsty. When all your thoughts are centered around how to quench that thirst, and every second feels like a lifetime? Luckily, for most of us living in first-world countries, drinkable water is relatively accessible. Whether you drink bottled water or arm yourself with a refillable water bottle, water is within minutes' reach.   


Considering water is necessary for human life, it is heavily monetized. In fact, 350 billion liters of bottled water were sold in 2021 globally, at a value of $270 billion. It is one of the fastest-growing industries that saw a growth rate of 73% from 2010 to 2020. 


Marketers have used water as a status symbol. They have created a hierarchy of water, where FIJI sits at the upper echelons. Advertised as artesian water from an underground reservoir on the Fijian island Viti Levu, it is the water of choice for celebrities and “important” people, from Oprah to Paris Hilton. With high status comes a high price. At $2.59 for 1L of FIJI Water, consumers can feel better about themselves while sipping from its iconic square-shaped bottle.  


By 2030, bottled water sales are expected to reach $500 billion. It is no surprise as there are countless brands of bottled water already on the market, and new ones coming out each year. Have you heard of thick water? Or core water? They are just two examples of new water products companies are introducing to the market in their efforts to get a cut of that $500 billion pie. 


On the opposite end of the water spectrum, are people who don’t have drinking water readily available to them. Their thirst doesn't last minutes, but hours, as they must walk great distances to fetch water and their supply is limited to what they can carry.    


Hassan Omar, from Somaliland, lives with the reality of water as a scarce resource. His village only had access to a hand-dug shallow well that had an opening exposed to the environment. It was prone to collapse, and the water would continually be polluted with wild animal feces or other contaminants. This well was their sole source of water for cooking, bathing, and drinking for themselves and their animals. Without another water source, Hassan, his fellow villagers, and their livestock put themselves at risk each time they quenched their thirst.    


Life for those like Hassan is limited due to water scarcity. How can people lift themselves out of poverty when the very thing that keeps them alive is also the thing that threatens their health?  Contaminated water can lead to deadly diarrheal diseases, including cholera, typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses. 


It’s hard for people in a water-rich country to understand, but in a water-scarce country like Somaliland, water and poverty are inextricably linked. Poor access to water and insufficient sanitation affects the health of the poor, their food security, and their prospects for making a living. This is one of the reasons behind Somaliland’s urban poverty rate of 29% and rural poverty rate of 38%. 


With no perennial rivers flowing through it, Somaliland relies on groundwater and surface water. Climate change has caused extreme weather events such as recurring droughts, the likes of one that occurred in 2022. It was so devastating that the estimated number of deaths is 43,000, half of which are under five years.    


Fortunately for Hassan and his community, Life for Relief and Development intervened to provide clean drinking water. LIFE was able to retrofit their well, making it deeper, and enclosing it with a pump. This upgrade has allowed 150 families and 1500 animals in the area access to potable water daily.   

 

In an interview with Hassan, he explains how a four-hour walk to fetch water has been cut down to 30 minutes or an hour. As water collecting usually falls on the shoulders of women and children, they miss out on other opportunities. For women, it means missing out on time spent with their families, childcare, household tasks, or rest. For children, it means missing out on education or playtime.  

 

Having access to a secure source of water has a rippling effect. Now Hassan’s community can thrive physically, mentally, economically, socially, and spiritually. This intervention has raised their standard of living and cemented their belief of a bright future.    

There is a global effort to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, per goal six of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Consider supporting this cause by donating a well.   

 

In a world where the water industry thrives, Hassan's story from water-scarce Somaliland stands out. A LIFE intervention gave Hassan and his whole village access to clean water. Today, Hassan's community thrives physically, mentally, and economically. Support this cause. Your donation can be the ripple that changes lives for the better.  




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