This year, Blog Action Day is all about water access. Clean water is hard to come by in many places, making water-borne illness a scourge of under-developed countries. And, really, it's too bad. One of the disappointing things about the world we live in is that we have all this wonderful technology and all these resources, and the distribution of everything is so lopsided. But, of course, in a society that worships the almighty dollar, it is difficult to even out distribution -- even in the U.S., which is a wealthy country by almost any standard.
At any rate, the folks at Change.org, who are sponsoring Blog Action Day, have provided 5 interesting water facts:
1. Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.
2. More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.
3. Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.
4. It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.
5.The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.
These really are rather startling facts, and make one think about all the things that we take for granted. We may think we have it tough sometimes here in the U.S., but sometimes what we need is a little perspective. Most of the rest of the world has it waaaaaay tougher than we do. And we can actually work to make it a better place -- including help increase access to water.