Convenient access to clean water is easily taken for granted in countries with abundant resources, but it is unfortunately not a luxury that all citizens of the world can enjoy. Despite the various advancements that are being made across the globe in fields such as technology, science and communications, the natural resource disparities between affluent and struggling communities have not ceased to exist. These inequalities — which range from a lack of adequate food sources to reduced access to education — include limited access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation. Communities with water scarcity are often composed of people that have been majoritarily overlooked or ignored by governmental bodies or societal leaders.
To illustrate the extent to which valuable resources such as clean water are not made equally accessible in all countries, the World Health Organization states that “by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.” The European Environment agency clarifies that “water stress” occurs when “the demand for water exceeds the available amount for a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use.” Such a staggering statistic highlights the pressing need for clean water initiatives and increased awareness around this humanitarian issue.
Taking Action Against Clean Water Disparity
The World Health Organization’s prediction regarding water-stressed areas does not provide an optimistic forecast for clean water access around the world. As previously mentioned, this problem is most significantly felt in under-resourced communities that are marginalized in some capacity. The United Nations confirms this, stating, “Those who are marginalized or discriminated against because of their gender, age, socio-economic status, or because of their ethnic, religious or linguistic identity, are also more likely to have limited access to proper water and sanitation.” In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right” for all. This declaration goes hand in hand with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which contains the goal of “sustainable management of, and access to, water and sanitation for all by 2030.”
While current statistics and reports show that this aspiration will prove difficult to attain in all countries by 2030, there are innumerable effective clean water initiatives that are making headway on this humanitarian issue. If the global issue of clean water scarcity is addressed on a variety of scales — both locally and governmentally — then deep-seated resource inequalities will finally be addressed. Keep reading to learn about a select few clean water initiatives and complementary resources that deserve our attention and support.
Global Water 2020
The first featured clean water initiative is Global Water 2020, a “three-year advocacy and facilitation initiative designed to accelerate progress toward water access and security for all people in developing countries.” This small, non-partisan team is composed of highly experienced individuals who have worked for water projects across the globe. Together, their decades of experience working to combat clean water disparity lead Global Water 2020 towards impactful, tangible solutions worldwide. While advocating for global, regional, and national water security, Global Water 2020 creatively leverages finance in the water sector and fearlessly communicates the pressing needs for safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene in developing countries. The Global Water 2020 initiative emphasizes the importance of working in collaboration with other clean water initiatives rather than competing for funds or recognition. They aim to “increase the amount and effectiveness of human, financial, and technical resources invested in the global water sector.”
Global Water 2020 Resources
The Global Water 2020 initiative website provides a wealth of resources for various audiences that include funding resources for fellow clean water initiatives, lists of water initiatives in your home state, and several publications on water security for those who want to learn more. On top of that, interested parties can peruse the “Jobs” section of the Global Water 2020’s resources page. Here, readers can find opportunities to get involved on a professional level with clean water programs, organizations, and initiatives around the world. Even better, this list of employment opportunities is categorized based on various themes that may also interest you, such as faith-based, gender-focused organizations, or even think tanks. Global Water 2020 is a rich resource for those interested in investing more of their time and energy toward water security for all.
The Clean Water Initiative (CWI)
Based out of Florida with members across the globe, the Clean Water Initiative works closely with the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) to reduce water waste, increase access to clean and potable water and improve hygiene and sanitation levels. CWI’s goals complement the United Nations’ previously mentioned goal 6 — to provide sustainable access to clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. By specifically implementing what is called the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiative, CWI is engaging businesses’ social consciousness in hopes that they will “adopt a community” and help secure clean water for its residents. Corporations can also participate by responsibly managing their own water resources, thus leading by example. CWI makes a point to acknowledge the significant impact that climate change has on water security and their organization prioritizes “multi-sectoral involvement” in water resource management.
Clean Water Initiative Resources
The Global Wellness Initiative and the Clean Water Initiative have gathered a vast amount of resource material for those who would like to learn more or get involved in general wellness, which includes their water security initiative. Readers can expand their knowledge on clean water accessibility and security by navigating to the GWI’s “Get Involved” section and then by clicking on “Clean Water Initiative.” Fellow initiative groups can access the GWI’s guidelines on how to start an initiative. You can also fill out this contact form if you would like to speak with the leaders of CWI and learn more about how to make an impact through water security efforts. Again, the CWI considers climate change as one of the most significant factors contributing to water inaccessibility and insecurity. CWI leadership members are highly educated and experienced individuals who have seen the effects of water insecurity firsthand and are deeply committed to making a change. Check out their website to broaden your understanding of the CWI and how you can help.
The Water Project
Another initiative that’s making a considerable impact on the water crisis in sub-Saharan Africa is The Water Project. The United Nations states that in sub-Saharan Africa, only 24% of the population has access to safe drinking water. The dire need for clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene has spurred The Water Project to focus their efforts on sub-Saharan Africa. This non-profit organization promotes local, in-country solutions to provide safe and clean water sources for communities that are poisoned by dirty water sources, which can lead to illness and disease. Moreover, The Water Project empowers local leaders to make the necessary changes in their communities to guarantee water security for residents, rather than coming in and taking over as a third party.
The Water Project Resources
The Water Project offers abundant resources and information that educate readers on the global water crisis and how each person can make a difference. Start with basic statistics and facts surrounding water scarcity — you may be shocked to learn that one in five children deaths under five years old are caused by water-related disease. The Water Project also features dedicated pages to educational topics such as “Water and Health” or “Water and Education.” The Water Project’s website is a fully-fledged resource in and of itself and offers readers the opportunity to get informed on various aspects of water scarcity that they may have not previously considered. If you are a teacher or know a teacher who might be interested in informing children about the water crisis, check out The Water Project’s expansive Teaching Tools.
Finally, the Surfrider Foundation frames its clean water mission slightly differently than the previously cited initiatives — this organization is dedicated to protecting the cleanliness and safety of the world’s oceans and beaches for all people. The Surfrider Foundation’s mission is composed of five main goals. First, they aim to reduce plastic pollution in marine environments. Next, the organization strives to defend oceans from challenges that threaten the ecosystem and also to ensure fair and full beach access for all. They prioritize coastal preservation and finally, the Surfrider Foundation protects the sustainability of the world’s most precious resource: water. With a national network of chapter volunteers, The Surfrider Foundation is able to address coastal issues on the ground quickly and effectively. This organization fights for climate change action across the country and ultimately champions the clean water initiative in the context of the world’s oceans and beaches.
Surfrider Foundation Resources
To learn more about the Surfrider Foundation and how you can be a part of their clean water initiative, visit their “Get Involved” page on their website. Here, you can find helpful information about volunteer opportunities in your local area. You can also get connected to a local chapter for a network of like-minded individuals who care about keeping the world’s oceans and beaches clean. Use the chapter map/locator to find a Surfrider Foundation group near you. In 2008, the Surfrider Foundation launched the Student Club Network which unites students on campuses across the country for the common cause of caring for the environment and cleaning up beaches/oceans. Visit the “Take Action” page to learn about current issues that you can fight for, such as passing specific bills or restoring the ban on plastic water bottles at national parks.
Takeaways: Clean Water Initiatives
In exploring the topics of clean water security, scarcity, accessibility, sanitation and hygiene, there are numerous initiatives that are taking concrete steps to grant clean water to all global citizens. By examining the frameworks and missions of clean water initiatives like Global Water 2020, The Clean Water Initiative, The Water Project and the Surfrider Foundation, we can learn more about these issues and the various ways in which each person can help attain and protect clean water sources. The groups cited above exemplify the various facets of water insecurity, from sub-Saharan African communities in need of safe water sources to the Surfrider Foundation’s efforts to clean and protect the world’s oceans and beaches. What each of these initiatives highlights (along with the thousands more that exist) is that water is an extremely valuable and versatile resource that plays a vital role in both our health and the health of the environment. As global citizens, we can do our part by supporting clean water initiatives and working to educate ourselves and others about the global water crisis at hand.