Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Wash My Hands Of You All!

I bet you didn't know today was Global Handwashing Day...
In India, cricket star Sachin Tendulkar will be leading the campaign that will see children across South Asia simultaneously washing their hands.

The UN says it wants to get over the message that this simple routine is one of the most effective ways of preventing killer diseases.

Nearly half the world's population do not have access to adequate sanitation.
Leave it to the Beeb to understate the case, a little.

According to the United Nations' "Water For Life Decade" campaign, upwards of four billion people live with water scarcity every day, as defined by demand exceeding local supply. Note that this figure includes several portions of the United States, most notably the Southwest.

Included in this percentage is about 1.1 billion people who simply have no access to safe drinking water, period. That's three times the size of the United States population. Imagine if every man, woman, and child in the US had to drink sewer water to survive.

Some of these people may have access to a gallon of water a day or less! Imagine being given a gallon jug every day, and told that you can have only that, for drinking, bathing, and cooking, each day, every day. And there's no guarantee it's clean!

Water scarcity is particularly a woman's issue, as well. In many societies, it is the woman who is tasked with obtaining clean fresh water for drinking, washing and cooking (images of African tribeswomen with jars on their heads should immediately confirm this intuitively).

We in America, with our broad swaths of temperate rain forests, forget how hard some countries, some people, have it with even the most basic subsistence materiel.

So go wash your hands, and then go online, spread the word, and donate. Skip one bottle of Poland Spring or Dasani or Aquafina (and if you're still drinking bottled water after all the talk about landfills and plastic bottles, then this is one more reason you should give it up), and give that $1 or two to WaterAid.

Then go wash your hands once again. You don't know where that keyboard's been!

(much love to Memeorandum for showing me the love and featuring this post)