World Water Day shines spotlight on fight to bring people clean water around globe

The Millennium Water Alliance supports World Water Day, March 22, by sharing stories of despair and hope. It's joined by a number of organizations and companies recognizing the annual event, including Procter & Gamble, AWWA, WaterPartners International, IBWA, Water Advocates, GE, etc., seeking to raise awareness about facts such as 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to clean water...

The Millennium Water Alliance supports World Water Day by sharing stories of despair and hope

HOUSTON, TX, March 22, 2007 -- Headlines tell the news:
-- Neighborhood water shut off -- people scramble to collect water from ditches
-- Children killed in melee as parents fight each other for water
-- Government destroys homes -- forces people to desolate site in blistering heat where no water aquifers exist
-- Water rationing limits access to 2 gallons of polluted water every other day
-- Severe epidemic snuffs out millions of lives.

These headlines are NOT in America but are real and affect over 2 billion people daily. More than 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, equivalent to the entire population of the United States, do not have access to clean water.

Two million children alone lost their lives in 2006 due to a pandemic caused by lack of access to clean water and sanitation. Already, the pandemic has cost the lives of 500,000 more children in 2007.

We see pictures on our television of children, moms and dads suffering from starvation with no identifiable means of support. Sick from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, they are too weak to plant or work.

"We send money and wonder why nothing changes," said Malcolm S. Morris, chairman of the board, The Millennium Water Alliance. "Life, health, education, job creation, peaceful coexistence, freeing women to reach their potential are all tragically compromised simply due to the lack of access to water, the liquid of life. Only 5 gallons a day of safe water would give a person the opportunity to meet their physical needs."

People denied access to clean water to enable them to develop a livelihood live on less than $2 a day. By simply providing safe clean water, we enable a person to be well enough to take action to survive and prosper. People in a remote area of Ethiopia had known the United States only when they had famine and we sent them dry food. Today, they celebrate the provision of clean water that they might not have famine.

No one would build a hospital or a school without water -- right? The United States has provided assistance for thousands of them -- but no longer. The U.S. now has adopted a new policy of providing water for each new facility.

After sharing these stories, the U.S. Congress passed the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act elevating the provision of clean water to be a tenet of U.S. foreign policy. President George W. Bush has signed the bill into law.

In Kenya, where 20 people, mostly children, were killed in fights over water on Valentine's Day of 2005, His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki instituted the widely publicized annual dedication of Peace Wells. He is encouraging other leaders to do the same.

President Kibaki is very committed to get water to all Kenyans in the shortest time possible. The Peace Well that he recently commissioned has changed the lives of the people of Kiu (Swahili for thirst) in Kilome Constituency. "Water stops hunger and conflict ... it is Life," said Kibaki.

All over the world, water has been a trigger for war. With the dedication of these Peace Wells, water can instead become a trigger for peace.

Is there any answer? Absolutely. American NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have banded together as the Millennium Water Alliance to work collaboratively on providing water and sanitation through sustainable solutions to address the problem. The amount appropriated to U.S. foreign aid for only one year is approximately the total amount of money that must be raised to supply clean water, sanitation, and health and hygiene training to one quarter of the people in the world suffering from a lack of clean water today.

For this amount, by 2015, more than 250 million people could be given hope and an opportunity in this world, dramatically reducing the need for future reliance on aid. In fact, economists figure there is a $34 contribution to the global "gross domestic product" for each $1 invested in providing clean water. Why not give people a chance?

"If you'd like to be the solution for one person, send $40 (the amount you'd spend on water you use in a week) and the Millennium Water Alliance will use your dollars to leverage other contributions to make clean water and sanitation a reality for millions," said Morris.

"Our vision is that no child should suffer or die from a preventable water-borne disease: not here in America, and not in a country waiting on the water resources needed to develop," he added.

Africare, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Food for the Hungry, Lifewater International, Living Water International, Water For People, Water Partners International and World Vision ask you to join the Alliance in providing a water solution to a thirsty person in this world.

For more information, visit www.mwawater.org

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Also see:
-- "Industry experts join GE to discuss world water crisis"
-- "FAO urges action to cope with increasing water scarcity"
-- "Procter & Gamble Helps Raise Awareness for World Water Day 2007"
-- "AWWA Raises Awareness of Water Scarcity, Water Stewardship on World Water Day 2007"
-- "Thirsty Planet: Coping with Water Scarcity on World Water Day 2007" (WaterPartners International)
-- "World Water Day: Where Bottled Water Fits In" (IBWA)
-- "U.S. leaders to speak out on World Water Days" (Water Advocates)

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