Water Woes

John Hawthorne is a health enthusiast from Canada with a passion for travel and helping with humanitarian relief efforts. His writing not only solves a creative need it has also led to many new opportunities when travelling abroad. Access to clean water is certainly an environmental challenge. Here John shares two of his writings: “Four Stark Realities of the Water Crisis” and “50 Heartbreaking Facts and Stats about the Global Water Crisis.”

Four Stark Realities Of The Global Water Crisis

Everyday, millions of people take clean water for granted. We don’t give a second thought to taking a long shower or cleaning our cars. We bathe our children in crystal clear water and cool off with the hose. We drink tall, cold glasses of water, one after another, without worry about where our next glass will come from.

We assume that our supply of water will never end, and we treat it in like manner. We know that water is a crucial part of our lives, and we know that we couldn’t survive without it, but we rarely think about those people who actually have to survive without clean water.

In the United States, we’ve gotten a tiny taste of the global water crisis through the events in Flint, Michigan. Suddenly, men, women, and children find themselves without a reliable, clean source of drinking water. And even worse, some children are already experiencing adverse effects from the water.

Of course, here in the United States, if our tap water goes bad we can always purchase bottles of water. In fact, companies like Culligan have built entire businesses around bottling and selling clean water.

Unfortunately, those in developing countries such as Afghanistan don’t have such luxuries. Every day, millions find themselves struggling simply to find clean water. Many are unable to and must resort to drinking filthy, parasite-laden water. Millions of people get sick and die as a result of drinking this water. These deaths are truly preventable simply by providing clean, sustainable sources of water.

As chef Marcus Samuelsson says:

Clean water and access to food are some of the simplest things that we can take for granted each and every day. In places like Africa, these can be some of the hardest resources to attain if you live in a rural area.

At Business Connect, we are passionate about providing citizens of developing countries with affordable access to clean water. We wholeheartedly agree with the World Health Organization:

In 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation. Everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

There are few things more important to life than clean water, and clean water is a right for every person. But we find that most people have no idea of the extent or severity of the clean water crisis. It’s not that they don’t care; they simply don’t know.

In order to effectively fulfill our mission, we want to first help people understand exactly what is happening in the global water crisis and why it matters. It’s difficult for people to take action in solving the global water crisis when it seems so far away and so irrelevant to their daily lives.

With that in mind, we want to give you insight into some of the stark realities of the global water crisis.

Stark Reality #1 – Every 90 Seconds A Child Dies From A Water-Related Disease

Consider this stunning fact for a moment. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease that could have been prevented simply by providing access to clean water. Diarrhea, which is incredibly easy to prevent, is the third leading cause of death among children. 161 million children are afflicted with chronic malnutrition and stunted growth, most of which is tied to lack of clean water.

Consider how this would be handled in a country like the United States. If a child was dying every 90 seconds due to a single cause, there would be a massive outcry. The government would immediately step in and millions of people would rally together. This kind of massive tragedy simply wouldn’t be allowed to happen. People wouldn’t stand for it.

As Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme, says:

If 90 school buses filled with kindergartners were to crash every day, with no survivors, the world would take notice.

And yet the global water crisis is often overlooked by those in developing countries. Again, not because they don’t care, but because they’re not aware. They aren’t aware of the catastrophic harm the crisis causes children.

Children simply cannot protect themselves. They have no option other than to drink the parasite-laden water around them. If they don’t drink the water, they die from dehydration. If they do drink the water, they will most likely be afflicted with a disease.

Let’s work together to protect these children. Let’s respond to the global water crisis in the same way we would respond to a local water crisis.

As William Ashworth says:

Children of a culture born in a water-rich environment, we have never really learned how important water is to us. We understand it, but we do not respect it.

Stark Reality #2 – The Number Of People Without Clean Water Is Staggering

The number of people who don’t have access to clean water is absolutely stunning. Currently, 2.6 billion people, which is half the developing world, lack access to an improved latrine. 1.1 billion people lack access to an improved water source. Those of us in the developing world can feel like clean water is an issue that only hurts a small number of people. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case.

Consider these facts:

  • Every year 1.1 million people, primarily under the age of 5 are killed from diarrhoeal diseases directly attributable to unclean, unsafe water.
  • 160 million people are afflicted by schistosomiasis and 500 million may be afflicted trachoma, which in turn puts 146 million people at risk for blindness.
  • 133 million people are infected with intestinal helminths which can be traced directly to unclean drinking water.
  • Between 300 to 500 million people are hit with malaria, which is caused when mosquitos breed in unclean drinking water. Out of the millions infected, 1 million children die every year.
  • 12 million people contract typhoid due to consuming unsafe drinking water.
  • Millions of people have AIDS, and clean water is essential to preventing infection and boosting the immune system.


The point is simply this: the global water crisis staggering. It is not a small problem affecting a few people.

Rachel Carson’s words are appropriate:

In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.

Let’s combat our indifference. Let’s work together to shrink the number of people without access to clean water.

Stark Reality #3 – The United States Consumes An Astonishing Amount Of Water Compared To The Rest Of The World

The average American consumes around 2,000 gallons of water…per day! In addition to consuming water directly by drinking, showering, and washing, we consume water indirectly through the products we purchase.


On average, it takes

  • 634 gallons to produce a hamburger and 37 gallons to produce a single cup of coffee.
  • 13 gallons to produce 1 gallon of gasoline and 5 gallons per hour to power a 60 watt light bulb.
  • 2,900 gallons to create a pair of jeans and 700 gallons to make a cotton t-shirt.

The U.S. footprint for water consumption is two times greater than the global average. In other words, in the United States we are consuming about twice as much water as the rest of the world.

As professor Shahzeen Attari said in a recent study:

Most Americans assume that water supply is both reliable and plentiful. However, research has shown that with climate change water supply will become more variable due to salinization of groundwater and increased variability in precipitation.

The point of these statistics is not to make Americans feel guilty for the amount of water they consume. The statistics simply highlight how unaware most Americans are of the amount of water they consume compared to the rest of the world.

Singer/songwriter Jewel said:

Clean water is a necessity that we can no longer take for granted. Each year more people die of water related diseases than any other cause of death on this planet. With a higher rate of suffering and mortality than diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, or war; or any two combined for that matter! An entire economy is growing around water. Those without money are suffering the most and risk severe illness from contaminated sources.

Our average water consumption shows that, unfortunately, we do take clean water for granted. By giving greater thought and appreciation to clean water, we can help solve the global water crisis.

Stark Reality #4 – The Global Water Crisis Is A Women’s Rights Issue

The global water crisis hits women particularly hard. In many countries, women are responsible for collecting all the water for the family. Every day, they walk miles and carry massive burdens just to secure enough water for bathing, drinking, cleaning, and washing. As soon as girls are old enough, they must join in this effort if the family is to have enough water.

When women have access to clean water, the effects are immediate and significant.

Literacy rates climb and school attendance increases thanks to girls not having to spend their days collecting water.

Women have reduced physical injury due to not carrying excessive burdens.

Child and maternal mortality drops thanks to clean water during childbirth.

There is less risk of assault and rape since women aren’t forced to scavenge in dangerous areas.

In the United States, we’ve made great progress in women’s rights issues. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in most developing countries where women must still spend hours every day collecting water. If we truly care about the rights of women around the world, we must work together to end the global water crisis.


The global water crisis is real and it isn’t a pretty picture. It affects billions of people, particularly women and children. And unfortunately, many of us in the United States are unaware of how much water we consume compared to the rest of the world.

But there is good news. We truly can make a difference. We can bring about change. Despite the enormity of the crisis, change is happening.


50 Heartbreaking Facts and Stats About The Global Water Crisis

1,800 child deaths every day are linked to water, sanitation and hygiene

2,000 children aged 5 and under die every day from a water-related disease

783 million people do not have access to clean and safe water worldwide

 1 in 9 people worldwide do not have access to safe and clean drinking water.

443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases.

Children in poor environments often carry 1,000 parasitic worms in their bodies at any time.

Lack of clean water kills children at a rate equivalent to a jet crashing every 4 hours

In developing countries, as much as 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease.

 1 in 3 people, or 2.4 billion, are without improved sanitation facilities.

There are 119 million in China and 97 million in India without clean drinking water

 58% of total diarrhoeal deaths that could be averted through safe drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene

 842,000 diarrhoeal diseases deaths per year result from unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene

More than one-third of Africa’s population lacks access to safe drinking water

25-33% of Chinese do not have access to safe drinking water

Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number of water-stressed countries of any region.

While it takes about 12 gallons per day to sustain a human the average American uses about 158 gallons By 2050, 1 in 5 developing countries will face water shortages

Half of the global population lives in countries where water tables are rapidly falling

85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet.

In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than armed conflict since WWII.

A five-minute shower uses more water than a person in a developing country uses in a day.

 Most of the world’s population spends up to 3 hours a day to get the water they need to survive.

27 percent of people living in cities do not have water piped into their homes

If we did nothing other than provide access to clean water, we could save 2 million lives a year. In villages where access to clean water is provided, the infant mortality rate can drop by 50%. In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed collecting water for domestic use.

In some places, women have to walk nearly 10 kilometers to reach a water source.

Clean drinking water would create 320 million productive days due to improved health.

When walking to retrieve water, women are at greater risk of sexual assault and harassment.

In Africa, every $1 spent on water and sanitation generates a return of $9 in saved time

Women are responsible for 72% of the water collected in Sub-Saharan Africa.

10% of the global disease could be reduced through improved water supply, sanitation, and hygiene.

Without clean water and sanitation, it is impossible to address poverty, hunger or AIDS.

Women and girls often spend up to 6 hours each day collecting water

$260 billion is lost globally each year due to lack of safe water and sanitation.

Access to safe water and sanitation would result in $32 billion in economic benefits each year

Time spent gathering water around the world translates to $24 billion in lost economic benefits each year.

In low and middle-income countries, 1/3 of all healthcare facilities lack a safe water source.

More than 1/2 of all primary schools in developing countries don't have adequate water facilities

Globally, at least 1.8 billion people use a drinking-water source contaminated with feces.

By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

In the U.S., we spend $61 billion every year on clean bottled water.

People living in slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people.

A five-minute shower uses more water than a person in a developing country uses in a day.

Without food a person can live for weeks, but without water one can expect to live only a few days.

India has just 4% of the world’s fresh water — but 16% of the global population.

Half of India's water supply in rural areas is routinely contaminated with toxic bacteria.

Lack of clean water is hurting India’s manufacturing sector, resulting in employment declines.


  1. UNICEF – Children dying daily because of unsafe water supplies and poor sanitation and hygiene https://www.unicef.org/
  2. The Water Project – Water Scarcity https://thewaterproject.org/
  3. Sea Metrics – Global water crisis facts http://www.seametrics.com/
  4. UN Water – Water Cooperation http://www.unwater.org/
  5. Water One Worlds Solutions – Global Water Crisis Facts http://www.wateroneworldsolutions.org/
  6. Charity Water – Why Water http://www.charitywater.org/
  7. Blue Planet Network – What makes clean water so important? http://blueplanetnetwork.org/
  8. Water – Facts About the Economic Importance of Safe Water http://water.org/
  9. Do Something – 11 Facts About Water in the Developing World https://www.dosomething.org/
  10. Save the Water – Water Facts http://savethewater.org/
  11. Watering Malawi – Global Water Poverty Facts http://wateringmalawi.org/
  12. The Globalist – India’s Water Crisis http://www.theglobalist.com/

New Progressive Alliance References:

-The Environment See number 14 for water.

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