Friday, November 10, 2006

Water kills 5,000 children a day!!!

Some of us think that global warming, changes in weather patterns, the ozone layer and the environment problems in general are just an exaggeration of scientists and an issue for intellectuals in need of causes to embrace. Some think that environment problems are good problems since they mean development. The truth is that these problems can cause more than flooding, hurricanes or other natural wrath resulting in hundreds of victims. The truth is that it could be responsible for the death of 2 million of our children a year or 5,000 a day. Take a moment and think about that number, because it really needs your full attention. Unfortunately, the victims here are generally very poor kids, living in countries that never make the news but when a celebrity actor or singer brings his TV crew to cover his charity work or adopt one of them.

The UN through its development program just published its 2006 Human Development report focusing on the problem of the water. It states that 2,000,000 children die a year from infected water and sanitations problems, that 1.2 billion of the world population don’t have access to safe water and 2.6 billion without access to sanitation!!!!! And we dare talk about globalization...


“In a world of unprecedented wealth, almost 2 million children die each year for want of a glass of clean water and adequate sanitation. Millions of women and young girls are forced to spend hours collecting and carrying water, restricting their opportunities and their choices. And water-borne infectious diseases are holding back poverty reduction and economic growth in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Beyond the household, competition for water as a productive resource is intensifying. Symptoms of that competition include the collapse of water-based ecological systems, declining river flows and large-scale groundwater depletion. Conflicts over water are intensifying within countries, with the rural poor losing out. The potential for tensions between countries is also growing, though there are large potential human development gains from increased cooperation.

The Human Development Report continues to frame debates on some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. Human Development Report 2006:

• Investigates the underlying causes and consequences of a crisis that leaves 1.2 billion people without access to safe water and 2.6 billion without access to sanitation
• Argues for a concerted drive to achieve water and sanitation for all through national strategies and a global plan of action
• Examines the social and economic forces that are driving water shortages and marginalizing the poor in agriculture
• Looks at the scope for international cooperation to resolve cross-border tensions in water management
• Includes special contributions from Gordon Brown and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President Lula, President Carter, and the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

source



Besides infection, the water is a source of bigger problems, which could cause the striving to death of whole populations. It is really hard to grasp the extent of this problem.

“Climate change threatens to further undermine the livelihoods of poor people. Water availability will be more unpredictable, with increasing prevalence of droughts, floods and other adverse weather events. While hydrologists disagree on the exact details for some regions, there is broad agreement that this will have some impact on crop productivity. One recent study points to large losses in crop productivity of more than 25% in already food insecure parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Mozambique, Zambia and countries of the Sahel.”
Source


We are all fed up with governments restricting freedom of speech or encouraging corruption and we all neglect and never talk about other actions that are more basic. I really hope that we all start at least to feel the importance of such tragedy and do whatever we can at our level to help. This could be just by making people aware it. Water, not oil is the next resource to be worth fighting for!!

"“The report urges governments to guarantee that each person has at least 20 litres of clean water a day, regardless of wealth, location, gender or ethnicity. If water was free to the poor, it adds, it could trigger the next leap forward in human development.
Many sub-Saharan Africans get less than 20 litres of water a day and two-thirds have no proper toilets. By contrast, the average Briton uses 150 litres a day while Americans are the world's most profligate, using 600 litres a day. Phoenix, Arizona, uses 1,000 litres per person on average - 100 times as much as Mozambique.
"Water, the stuff of life and a basic human right, is at the heart of a daily crisis faced by countless millions of the world's most vulnerable people," says the report's lead author, Kevin Watkins.
Hilary Benn, international development secretary, said: "In many developing countries, water companies supply the rich with subsidised water but often don't reach poor people at all. With around 5,000 children dying every day because they drink dirty water, we must do more."
Many countries spend less than 1% of national income on water. This needs to rise sharply, as does the share of foreign aid spent on water projects, the UNDP says. It shows how spending on clean water and sanitation led to dramatic advances in health and infant mortality in Britain and the United States in the 1800s.
In the world's worst slums, people often pay five to 10 times more than wealthy people in the same cities or in London. This is because they often have to buy water from standpipes and pay a middle man by the bucket. "The poorer you are, the more you pay," says Mr Watkins.”

Source

The report does interesting comparisons between the GDP and the Human Development Index (HDI) or how good are governments in turning their wealth into human development like health and education. You can also use this interactive map to learn more about the HDI by country. The comparison between Tunisia and Sri Lanka is interesting and the USA case too. I really encourage you to do your own homework on these issues and try to come up with a few things you can do to help.

PS: My friend ALGY also posted about this problem on her blog

43 comments:

A.L.G.Y said...

C'est drôle, les grands esprits se rencontrent. Pourtant cela a peu intéressé les médias. A vrai dire c'était une semaine chargée avec les élections de mi-mandats, même la Palestine a été sommairement abordée, malgré l'horreur.

Je ne sais pas si tu as vu la vidéo. Comme on dit les images valent mille mots.

Voici encore une fois le lien vidéo

http://boss.streamos.com/wmedia/undp/kibera_launch_film_french.wvx

samsoum said...

:-) C'est vrai que ce genre de problèmes n'a jamais la couverture médiatique souhaitée. Je suis tombé sur l'article de Guardian par hasard et j'ai décidé d'en parler. Avant de le poster, j'ai été agréablement surpris que toi aussi tu en parles.

J'ai vu la vidéo de Kibera, au fait ces gens boivent une eau mélangée a leur propre excréments!!!

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