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Knowledge to Action

Posted by Max Rothman on

A note on water supply in developing countries

Violet, a young girl from Zambia, awakes day after day before sunrise. Three times a day she walks two miles to fetch water for her sister, her grandmother and herself. At dawn, bucket in hand, with nothing at her side but the chirps of birds and the climbing sun, she dreams of going to school, of becoming a doctor. She walks. Feet bare. She coughs. Scratches her sores from bad water. She walks. Feels a pain in her chest. She walks. She at last arrives at a slight pit of earth, collects the murky liquid and raises the bucket overhead. She walks.


Of course Violet, finely documented in a video by the humanitarian organization World Vision, is just one of millions of children directly affected by poor water conditions throughout the world. They battle skin and stomach diseases. They know the water is dirty, but they often have nothing else. The organization noted that everyday more than 1,600 children under the age of five in Zambia die from diarrhea caused by unsafe drinking water. That figure exceeds the combined number of deaths from AIDS and malaria.

Meanwhile, demand for clean water is growing rapidly across the continent. Rising urban populations and industrial developments, among other factors, contribute to an estimated 283 percent upswing in water demand from sub-Saharan Africa between 2005 and 2030, according to a recent report by The World Bank.

Many Americans have heard about people like Violet. They know about these tragedies. They've heard the rigmarole through canvassers, social media or that one rally-going relative. But people, if there really is a person on the other end of that screen, the type with the breath and the beating heart -- knowledge is not enough. We must act on our knowledge.

That's what World Vision is doing with the Zambia Project, which brought a clean, sustainable water supply to Violet and her family. "Please tell everyone that my suffering ended today," she said. It's what charity: water is doing with every dollar for water supply and sanitation. And it's what we're doing at WELLY. Yes, with your contribution, you get a top-shelf water bottle and filter. However, true action is the principal achievement here. For every bottle purchased, WELLY donates $1 toward sustainable clean water projects in developing countries.

By turning knowledge into action, anyone can help supply clean water for families across the globe, from Zambia to Indonesia. We must look deeply inward and find our own humanity to help those who are distant yet equally alive.

Posted by WELLY contributing author, Max Rothman



Then and Now: Violet's Water Journey, World Vision

The Future of Water in African Cities, The World Bank