Global Water Crisis
It can be easy to take clean water for granted, but people affected by the global water crisis suffer daily.
Nearly all of our body’s major systems, from our joints and tissues to organs and body temperature, depend on water to function. Yet, one in four people worldwide lack safely managed drinking water services, according to a 2020 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).1
Worldwide, 55% of water is contaminated, and over 2 billion people lack accessible water from safe sources.2 That means they’re drinking water infested with harmful E. coli or thermotolerant coliforms bacteria, which thrives in unprotected wells, exposed springs and other surface water, like rivers and ponds.
Global water crisis facts: Water quality affects health
Excrement from warm-blooded animals, as well as soil, vegetation and water, can all support disease-causing coliform bacteria. E. coli originate mostly from human and animal feces. Fecal matter from both humans who don’t have access to proper toilets and animals often ends up in surface water and unprotected wells or springs. Other disease-causing pathogens, from viruses to Salmonella, Giardia and more, are often found contaminating water.
Unclean water typically causes gastrointestinal and flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. It can also cause neurological disorders, reproductive problems, urinary tract infections, respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, and even extremely serious diseases that can lead to death, such as polio, cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Contaminated water alone causes about 485,000 diarrheal deaths annually.3
Children are especially at risk of contracting waterborne diseases. Illness disrupts children’s learning, through malnutrition, lack of physical energy and diminished cognitive capacity. Likewise, disease stemming from foul water affects parents’ ability to work and provide for their children.
Gathering water takes time
Almost 2 billion people live without a household water connection—that’s six times the population of the United States.4 In some communities, Christians and others are unwelcome at community water sources, so gathering water becomes even more risky.
For some people, every day it takes hours to collect water; 282 million people spend more than 30 minutes to reach water, and they make multiple trips per day.5
Rather than using that time to work or attend school, women and children—especially girls—end up spending their precious time walking to far-away ponds or lakes. When they arrive, they know the water can cause sickness or even death, but water is so essential to life, they have no other choice.
When parents can access clean water close to home, they can spend more time working and caring for their children. And, of course, the children can attend school with more energy and focus.
Safe water is essential to public health
Clean water, along with sanitation and water resource management, can boost countries’ economic growth and greatly reduce poverty, according to the WHO.6
The global water crisis is the fifth international risk that negatively affects society, according to the World Economic Forum in 2020.7 In healthcare facilities that don’t have safe water service, the health and sanitation of both patients and caregivers are severely impacted. 15% of patients globally develop an infection during a hospital stay, with the proportion much greater in the least developed countries.8 If we don’t intervene, half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025.9
Clean water and good sanitation are human rights.10 When people’s basic human rights—and needs—are addressed, they begin to feel a sense of dignity, as well as God’s love for them.
All of the health risks associated with the crisis are preventable, which is why at GFA we’re so passionate about providing water crisis solutions through lifesaving resources. These are the resources we provide:
- We build clean water sources with wells dug down to 600 feet—or deeper. Our Jesus Wells ensure healthy and easily accessible water to families year round. We equip each well with a heavy-duty handpump so it lasts up to 20 years. Each well can provide clean water to an average of 300 people daily, freely offered to everyone.
GFA’s Jesus Wells on average, cost less than $5 per person, and they literally save lives. You can supply clean water to an entire village for only $1,400. And, just $140 can help save 30 mothers, fathers and children from illness. Donate here.
- GFA also provides clean water to families through BioSand Water Filters, which convert dirty water into clean drinking water. These simple yet efficient filters are made from concrete and a diffuser plate and filled with sand, rocks and gravel to remove 98% of biological impurities, protecting families from dangerous diseases.
Your donation of $30 provides a family with a BioSand filter.
- In addition to providing clean water, we build sanitation facilities, like toilets, and teach simple hygiene practices to families to improve their daily health.
1 “Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000-2020: Five Years into the SDGs.” Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). https://washdata.org/sites/default/files/2021-07/jmp-2021-wash-households.pdf. 2021.
2 “Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000-2020: Five Years into the SDGs.” Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). https://washdata.org/sites/default/files/2021-07/jmp-2021-wash-households.pdf. 2021.
3 “Drinking-water.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water. June 14, 2019.
4 Key Water.org Facts, for use in 2020-2021. Water.org. https://water.org/documents/184/FY21_Key_Water.org_facts.pdf.
5 “Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000-2020: Five Years into the SDGs.” Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). https://washdata.org/sites/default/files/2021-07/jmp-2021-wash-households.pdf. 2021.
6 “Drinking-water.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water. January 14, 2019.
7 “The Global Risks Report 2020.” World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2020. January 15, 2020.
8 “Drinking-water.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water. June 14, 2019.
9 “Water Scarcity.” United Nations. https://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/scarcity.shtml#:~:text=By%202025%2C%201.8%20billion%20people,living%20under%20water%20stressed%20conditions. November 24, 2014.
10 “Drinking-water.” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water. June 14, 2019.
* Cover Photo: MrGauravBhosle. “Water Crisis.” Wikimedia. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Water-crisis.jpg. May 22, 2016.