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Why Is Clean Water Important?

According to National Geographic, “More than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in water.”1 Yet there is a global water crisis in which 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.2 How can this be? Why is clean water important?

Consider the following statistics:

  • National Geographic reports, “About 159 million around the world people collect their drinking water directly from surface water” (i.e., lakes, ponds, rivers), which is often unsafe to drink.3 Half of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.4
  • Many water sources in developing regions contain fecal matter, arsenic or other pollutants.5
  • Worldwide, nearly 1 billion people practice open defecation, which is a major contributor to water contamination in these areas.6 The World Health Organization estimates, “At least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces.”7
  • 68 to 84 percent of water sources in South Asia are contaminated.8
  • Half of rural households in Africa lack access to safe drinking water.9
  • In developing countries, “Water-related diseases are the most common cause of illness and death,” says the World Water Council.10
  • Unsafe water leads to waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, cholera and dysentery. Approximately 1.8 billion people, 90 percent of which are children under the age of 5, die every year from diarrheal diseases, which are often caused by unclean water.11 Tens of millions of others become seriously ill from such diseases.12 Many of these illnesses, and deaths, are preventable.
  • Children have higher metabolisms, and their bodies contain proportionately more water than adults. Diarrhea, which depletes the body’s fluids, claims the lives of approximately 1.5 million children every year in developing areas such as Africa and South Asia.13

Thankfully, there are various organizations addressing this need. For example, GFA World provides Jesus Wells and BioSand water filters to communities and families in need. Through these clean water initiatives, more than 38 million people have received safe, pure drinking water.

1 “Water Inequality.” National Geographic. October 1, 2019.
2 “Water Supply & Sanitation.” World Water Council. Accessed August 11, 2021.
3 “Clean Water and Sanitation: A Global Report Card.” National Geographic. Accessed August 30, 2021.
4 “The United Nations World Water Development Report 2019: Leaving No One Behind.” United Nations. 2019.
5 Luby, Stephen. “Water Quality in South Asia.” Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition. June 2008.
6 “Water Inequality.” National Geographic. October 1, 2019.
7 “Drinking-water.” World Health Organization. June 14, 2019.
8Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).” UNICEF. Accessed January 14, 2021.
9 Dovi, Efam. “Bringing water to Africa’s poor.” Africa Renewal. October 2007.
10 “Water Supply & Sanitation.” World Water Council. Accessed August 11, 2021.
11 “Water Supply & Sanitation.” World Water Council. Accessed August 11, 2021.
12 “Safe Drinking Water is Essential.” Koshland Science Museum. Accessed August 30, 2021.
13 Holt, Palmer. “Dying of Thirst: The Global Water Crisis.” GFA World. . March 1, 2019.