Mar
18
2009

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Guest blogger Lisa McCandless is the program coordinator for PlayPumps International, a Case Foundation partner organization.

Did you know that March 22nd is World Water Day?  Don’t worry, a few years ago I didn’t either.

I was living in northern Tanzania. It was my first day in my new home, a small village in the bush called Majengo, and I was walking with my mama (host mother) to collect water for the day. As we were making the two hour trek to the nearest water supply, Mama Arnoldi asked me, "How far do you walk in America to get water?" My heart sank. Then there was the week our taps went dry. And the many days I was sick, really sick, from drinking contaminated water.

Up until this point, like many Americans, I had taken clean water for granted. We have it on tap. However, many people aren’t so lucky. Today, over 1 billion people around the world do not have access to safe, clean water. That is 1 in 6 of us. Every 15 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease. Half of the world’s schools do not have access to water. 40 billion hours of productivity are lost in Africa alone. The task of water collection traditionally and literally falls on the shoulders of women and girls, who often walk up to five miles every day to carry 40 pounds of water back to their homes.

The global water crisis is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, but there are simple solutions that are making a difference right now. At PlayPumps International our mission is to provide schools and communities in Africa with access to this most basic resource. We do this through an amazingly simple and fun technology – the PlayPump® water system, which is a merry-go-round water pump. As children play, water pumps! Entire communities are uplifted and empowered. Lives are saved and diseases are dramatically reduced. Children can go to school and learn, instead of hauling water. Women have time to earn a living. The ripple effects are astonishing and widespread. It all starts with water.

As we approach World Water Day, imagine how your life might be different if you did not have access to clean water. No taps, no sinks, no drinking fountains, no showers, no water to brush your teeth. No flushing toilets, no clean water to cook or clean. For many of us, a life like this is truly unimaginable.

In honor of World Water Day, act for water as if your life depended on it. Because it does!

Here are a few ways you can get involved:

For more information about World Water Day:

It was Benjamin Franklin who first said “when the wells run dry, we know the worth of water.” Let’s not wait until it’s too late.

What will you do for World Water Day?

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