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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

IR USA commemorates World Water Day … every day

A sanitary, convenient, modern well provided by Islamic Relief in Mali.

Today, on World Water Day, take a moment to consider … how did you use water this morning?

A 10-minute shower?

Brushed your teeth?

Flushed the toilet?

Washed your hands?

Maybe made some coffee, washed an orange and boiled an egg?

Then washed the pot, plate and cup?

All of that is perfectly reasonable. This morning routine would require about 30 gallons of water. Thankfully, getting that water is no harder than turning a faucet.

If we had gotten it the way many millions of people around the world get their water, though, we would have carried it home from a well in buckets on our heads or attached to a pole across our shoulders.

Those 30 gallons would weigh about 250 pounds.

Imagine carrying this much weight over your shoulders a few miles every morning just to be able to use enough water to wash up and eat breakfast?

And that’s just one person’s morning routine. How much more water would you have to carry home to get through the rest of the day? To wash clothes? To care for a family?

Would you wash yourself and the things around you as often? Would you even drink a glass of water without a second thought?

Who would carry all that water for the family?

Now, granted, if you had to carry your water, you wouldn’t have a shower to bathe in or even a toilet to flush. This would require less water but would cause another host of problems, as without proper toilets, the water you carry home might not even be clean. Without proper sanitation systems, human waste easily seeps into the water supply. This takes the problem far beyond convenience.

According to the World Health Organization in a 2008 report, only about 60 percent of the world uses a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact. For the other 40 percent or so, this contamination spreads diseases … often with fatal results. According to the United Nations, diarrhea-related diseases are the second most common cause of death in children younger than 5, and of these deaths, 88 percent are caused by lack of sanitation, poor hygiene and contaminated drinking water.

Nearly 900 million people in the world do not have access to safe water supplies – about one in eight people. According to the World Health Organization, about 3.5 million people die from the resulting diseases each year.

So the water you carefully carried home over your shoulders has an excellent chance of harboring bacteria that could kill your children.
Islamic Relief is helping people in situations like this, and you can help too.
Islamic Relief is carrying out water and sanitation projects around the world. One of these projects is being implemented in Yemen, where water is a major concern for most rural communities. In one region called Al Farsha in particular, war in the early 1990s damaged so much of the infrastructure that nearly the entire population lost access to sanitary water. From 1994 until recently, the locals got their water by digging wells by hand – sometimes to a depth of more than 100 feet. The water from these crudely constructed wells was salty and contaminated with bacteria, so diarrhea and other waterborne diseases became common. Men spent their days trying to earn money, and it was women and girls who painfully carried the water home from the wells, balancing the weight on their heads. This took much of their days. Partly as a result, three-quarters of women there are illiterate.

Islamic Relief launched a project to provide safe water to the households in Al Farsha. Teams are digging modern wells and building infrastructure to bring the clean water right to local homes. This yearlong project began in 2010 and will benefit more than 7,000 people.

A similar project is under way in Mali, another country where women and girls spend much of their time carrying water – which is often contaminated – from wells at times miles from home. Islamic Relief began a water and sanitation project in Mali last year, and by 2012, clean water and improved sanitation facilities will be accessible to an additional 25,000 people.

These are just two of Islamic Relief’s many development projects. Islamic Relief implemented a similar water and sanitation project in China and is also helping to provide modern wells in Pakistan following the destructive floods in summer 2010.

A clean water supply means better health. It means less pain. It means more time for school or work. For so many people, it would mean the world.

These projects are run with the support of donors like you. Help Islamic Relief continue these efforts. Please donate today.
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