Emma Graham – Emergency Programs Intern
Water is life. That’s what they say, right? We couldn’t agree more. Water is the most valuable resource we have, and this World Water Day 2021, we are Valuing Water more than ever.
World Water Day began in 1993, as one of the United Nations’ Observance Days, with the purpose of paying a little extra attention to this important conversation. This annual event may be happening virtually this March 22nd, but it is still with the ultimate goal of achieving clean water and sanitation for all by 2030, as SDG 6. This World Water Day, the UN is highlighting the endless possibilities of water and asking us all to look a little deeper at what water means to our lives.
Water has an imperative yet complex role in the global network. Access to clean water is a human right of all yet, it remains an ongoing crisis with over 2.1 billion people having inconsistent access. Lack of access to clean water is a vital piece of numerous global crises, so when clean water is more accessible, disease is reduced, global sanitation is improved, people are healthier, and the natural environment is better cared for. Water is not an infinite or replaceable resource – it requires careful use and protection, in order to be valuable to everyone. Right now, water is being misused, commoditized and monopolized, and it is not being valued for its potential benefit to everyone.
For the individuals experiencing crisis and disaster, clean water is a true rarity. Lack of access to clean water and bacteria-infected water has been an ongoing crisis in Bangladesh since the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2017. With more than 860,000 Rohingya refugees currently living in Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh, the infrastructure is overwhelmed, and individual sanitation measures are compromised. Water is even less accessible and with the impending flooding from monsoon season, water is at even greater risk for cholera contamination. Refugees and host communities alike are experiencing inconsistent access to clean water as “more than 70% of households in Cox’s Bazar rely on tube-wells fitted with hand-pumps to collect their water”. “Recent water testing in several refugee camps found that at least 52% of hand-pumps show signs of e-coli contamination.”
GlobalMedic is responding.
In order to keep these communities safe and healthy, GlobalMedic provided 7,380 Family Emergency Kits to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in 2020. The kits contained hygiene items, a solar light and portable water purification system. The water purification system consists of two plastic buckets, one with a purifying system inside. The system offers a simple setup and allows portability, understanding that families may be displaced at any time but will always require access to clean water. Families rely on this system to provide them with the clean water they need for cooking, drinking, cleaning, washing and managing their daily lives. With this system, Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi families will decrease their likelihood of contracting cholera or other water-borne diseases and be better equipped to practice safe sanitation measures.
Water is an ongoing life-giving resource to individuals everywhere, but particularly in over-crowded places with underprepared infrastructures, such as refugee camps. GlobalMedic recognizes the multidimensional value of water worldwide and acts to ensure that everyone can access it. Because valuing water is about so much more than its monetary value and economic purposes – it is a source of life, health, prosperity and dignity. Today and every day, we need to truly understand the multiple and complex ways that water supports and affects life, if we are going to be able to protect it for years to come.
What does water mean to you? Join the conversation. #WorldWaterDay #WWD2021