Sunday, March 21, 2010

A conversation with Susannah Masur, communications officer at Action Against Hunger to honor World Water Day

Some of you WYCD followers out there, may remember the name Susannah Masur. She is a communications officer at the organization, Action Against Hunger We worked with Susannah and Action Against Hunger on videos for our first Hunger week. In addition to focusing on issues such as hunger and malnutrition however, this organization also puts their attention toward access to clean drinking water.

This week, in honor of World Water Day, What You Can Do premieres our Clean Drinking Water week. Since World Water Day is tomorrow, March 22nd, we thought the best way to open the week was to get more background on the importance and significance of this Day – and that’s where Susannah comes in. To find out more about World Water Day and the plight of many without access to clean drinking water, please read below.

Tomorrow is World Water Day. Can you explain the significance of this day and why it is necessary?

At home in the United States, clean drinking water is easy to come by. We can simply turn on the faucet, and out it comes. So it’s easy to forget that in many parts of the world, people simply don’t have access to clean water. Roughly a billion people drink from dirty water sources on a daily basis. And, more than a third of the world’s population lives without access to basic sanitation and hygiene. Unsafe water and unsanitary living conditions lead to a host of water-borne illnesses that can devastate entire communities across the developing world. Every day, 4,000 children die from entirely preventable water and sanitation-related illnesses like diarrhea, dysentery, and cholera. And in Africa, it’s estimated that half of all girls that stop attending primary school do so because of a lack of safe and private toilets. World Water Day was established by the United Nations in 1992 with the goal of drawing the world’s attention to this global water and sanitation crisis.

What’s the good news? The situation isn’t hopeless at all. We know how to save the lives of millions of children, protect our natural resources, and advance education and economic growth by deploying solutions that already exist. Individuals and agencies like Action Against Hunger are providing communities all over the world with sustainable access to clean water and sanitation and training in hygiene practices like hand-washing and safe water handling. What’s missing is the funding and political will to scale up these proven, cost-effective solutions to reach more communities in need.

What, in your opinion, is the major reason that so much of the world is lacking access to clean water?
There are many reasons why people may lack access to clean water, but much of it boils down to one simple fact: by and large, donors, governments, and the public have not prioritized this issue. We’ve made a lot of headway on a lot of global health issues, including HIV/AIDS and other preventable illnesses like river blindness. But we haven’t done the same for water, sanitation, and hygiene.

For example, it’s estimated that for about $30 billion, near-universal sanitation can be achieved. When you add up all the current global funding for sanitation, it’s only a fraction of this amount. To put things in perspective, the average amount spent on soft drinks in the United States every year is $72 billion. So $30 billion to ensure proper sanitation isn’t a lot of money in the grand scheme of things when you consider how many lives can be saved.

World Water Day is an opportunity for citizens to make their voices heard on this issue. Clean water and sanitation can be a reality for people around the globe if we demand it.

For more information, please visit - Action Against Hunger

1 comment: