Water-another global 'crisis?'
Water-Another Global "Crisis?"
If you look at the numbers, it is hard to see how many East African communities made it through the long drought of 2005 and 2006.
Among people who study human development, it is a widely-held view that each person needs about 20 litres of water each day for the basics - to drink, cook and wash sufficiently to avoid disease transmission.
Yet at the height of the East African drought, people were getting by on less than five litres a day - in some cases, less than one litre a day, enough for just three glasses of drinking water and nothing left over.
Some people, perhaps incredibly from a western vantage point, are hardy enough to survive in these conditions; but it is not a recipe for a society that is healthy and developing enough to break out of poverty.
"Obviously there are many drivers of human development," says the UN's Andrew Hudson.
"But water is the most important."
At the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), where Dr Hudson works as principal technical advisor to the water governance programme, he calculated the contribution that various factors make to the Human Development Index, a measure of how societies are doing socially and economically.
"It was striking. I looked at access to energy, spending on health, spending on education - and by far the strongest driver of the HDI on a global scale was access to water and sanitation."
Yes, access to water and sanitation is the strongest driver of human development yet it is the one issue still put on the backburner in consciousness. Even in President Obama's 'stimulus' bill water, access to it, pollution of it, and fixing its infrastructure have been given little attention at a time when it is paramount not only in relation to climate change and envionment, but also to health and economy as the entire Southwest United States is in an unprecedented drought that threatens food and water security. It is frustrating to know the implications of apathy and see it practiced by those who have the power to change it.
For the past few years I have done much reading, research, writing, blogging and hopefully spreading of awareness of this important crisis that faces our world. As humans we have done a good job of betraying our own future. We have constantly and consistently taken those things of little significance and given them top billing over what sustains us, and we are now paying the price for it.
There really are days when I am then at a loss for words in trying to relay the importance of changing those priorities.