I'd love to share with you...
My daughters do not know what it is to spend hours collecting water. My girls may suffer the occasional stomach upset, maybe even miss a day of school because of it, but they will never lay dehydrated and dying with only the water available, the very same water that made them sick in the first place. Before I went to Haiti, India and Ethiopia and saw these situations firsthand, I would have found them unfathomable.
Today, nearly 750 million people live without access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion people lack improved sanitation. This must change. As a father and a husband, I realize how important having access to safe water and sanitation are, especially for women and children—the people who bear the biggest burden of this crisis.
The coping costs of not having sustained access to safe water are enormous and largely undocumented. People are drinking water and paying huge costs to do so. Women and children spend 140 million hours per day collecting water for their families, often from polluted sources. They buy from water vendors or spend hours walking to sources and hauling the water back. They drink water of questionable safety, become ill, adding medical costs, and missed work to the economic burdens they already bear. They cannot go to school or work with the majority of their time spent securing the family’s daily water supply. Can you imagine what could be accomplished if those 140 million hours were recaptured? If all the money spent on buying water was redirected into the water and sanitation supply system?
Given that women and children bear the greatest burden, it comes as no surprise that women are the champions of their households and communities when it comes to obtaining access to a safe, sustained water supply and improved sanitation. I have seen the strength and determination of women who want to change the future for their families. These women form committees and coalitions and they apply for loans through our WaterCredit program. These loans empower women to make choices that best work for them, their families and their communities. They take out small loans as individuals or larger loans as a community. They install wells, build bathrooms, buy rain barrel systems, or tap into the local water infrastructure.
I want to see the day all women have the opportunity to realize their potential. I want children to stop dying at a rate of one every minute from a preventable water-related illness. Join me and help solve this crisis, in our lifetime.
Be the Change
There’s no doubt that the world has made a lot of progress in the last several years, but for girls and women, there’s still work to do.
Check out our great partners below who are doing important work on this issue.
the amount of hours women and children around the world spend collecting water every day
750 million people
don’t have access to safe water
a child dies of a water-related disease
See who's making a difference
Since 1952, The Caterpillar Foundation has been dedicated to transforming lives in the communities where we live and work around...
Safe water and the dignity of a toilet for all.
African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) is an outreach, education, and engagement initiative that targets African women entrepreneurs to promote business...
#ONEderWoman of the Week: Erin Zaikis
In just two years, #ONEderWoman Erin Zaikis has impacted over 6,000 lives in India, Uganda, and Myanmar through her organization, the Sundara Fund, which provides soap and hygiene education to communities that need it the most by recycling gently-used bars of soap from local hotels and transforming them into clean, ready-to-use bars. Not wanting to just create a hand-out organization that simply gives out soap, Erin worked hard to ensure that Sundara’s approach is sustainable and community-led. Sundara employs local women to be community hygiene ambassadors, who create hygiene modules, conduct hygiene demonstrations, and are effective in encouraging a societal shift in which good hygiene habits become a regular part of daily life. Ultimately, Sundara has rescued thousands of kilograms of soap from ending up in landfills, brought soap to those who couldn’t afford it, given economic opportunity to unemployed women, and increased rates of handwashing in the communities they work in!
Help tell the stories of the girls and women all over the world doing amazing things. Be sure to include a link to their story in your nomination!
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