We’re a quarter of the way through the day, have you had your recommended 2 out of 8 hydrating glasses of water yet? For the Ethiopian village of Foro, 8 glasses (let alone 2) would be a daily luxury since water is so incredibly scarce that women spend on average 3 hours fetching meager amounts for their families. This World Water Day, the focus is “water for cities”, addressing the impact global urbanization has on water systems, management, and access. Whether you live in a big city, examining your water usage is vital to those far beyond your neighborhood. Eco-activists, photojournalists and filmmakers are some of the many people connecting us to our fellow man/woman who is without adequate water.
For many, I believe, these notions of scarcity may be difficult to grasp through simple words. Water is something tangible yet fleeting, destructive yet rejuvenating. I remember the stunning photographs from National Geographic’s exhibition of Water: Our Thirsty World. John Stanmeyer poignantly captured the sacred beauty of water flowing from the Ganges, India’s holiest river, during the Ganga Dussehra festival. For approximately one-fifth or 1.2 billion people in the world living in areas where water is scarce, it becomes an element worth worshipping. When The Water Ends is a 16-minute documentary of how extreme drought is fueling conflict over limited water and suitable farming land. Tribal groups in Ethiopia and Kenya are killing each other in search of more widely available water supplies.
Tower 37 siphons every drop of water from a once-pristine lake, that is, until the station’s steward realizes that it is slowly destroying an entire ecosystem. From the sound of it, you wouldn’t know that Tower 37 exists only in a virtually constructed 3-D universe. The Incident at Tower 37 (2009) is a 10-minute animated film that brings humanity face-to-face with its blind consumption of Earth’s natural resource. Chris Perry, writer and director of the short, reflects “the tendency in the current media to conceal environmental disasters by only telling the human side of the story”. After two years, 60-plus festival screenings and 20 awards, today marks the online release of this moving tale of two water dwellings heroes.
What if one day you turned on the faucet and nothing came out? We may live in a city, but water is a precious commodity and should be treated as such. If you haven’t stopped to smell the roses (after all, it’s water that has facilitated their beauty), and really looked at your water consumption, let this be the first day that you take steps to see beyond the tap. Do one thing to save water (and money!). And if you’re thirsty for more, do something else to make sure others have access to clean water too.
Water for People helps developing countries improve quality of life by supporting the development and upkeep of locally sustainable, long-lasting drinking water resources and sanitation facilities.
The Water Project has a mission to provide clean, safe drinking water to communities, churches, primary and secondary schools in Kenya, Southern Sudan and Uganda. Fresh water wells each directly benefit an average of 500 students and the surrounding communities of over 1,000. That’s less than $10 per person to supply water for more than 10 years!
charity: water has helped fund 2,906 water projects in 17 countries, benefiting over 1,277,430 people. Their enormous presence on Twitter and active celebrity community lead to last year’s $12-13 million raised for clean water initiatives. Fans like Justin Bieber and Jessica Biel have donated their “birthdays” to the cause with epic results.
Water.org focuses on funding clean water projects in the developing world and in 2009 committed $2 million to provide 50,000 people in Haiti with safe water and sanitation over three years. Formed after a merger between actor Matt Damon’s H20 Africa charity and Gary White’s WaterPartners, the successful use celebrity and humorous PSA videos has generated much awareness.
The UNICEF TAP Project has helped raise more than $2.7 million towards clean water initiatives on behalf of UNICEF since 2007, and this week thousands of restaurants across the U.S. are helping to generate even more cash by participating in the $1 Tap Water campaign. Customers are asked to pay $1 for plain ‘ole tap water with their meals. And because water is worth so much more than given credit, Hollywood is supporting the cause with a clever luxury bottled water line called ‘Celebrity Tap’. For a $5 donation, you can be entered in a raffle to win the personal tap water from the homes of stars like Adrian Grenier, Rihanna and Robin Williams.