Where there’s a will, there’s a way: The UN announced yesterday that 89% of the world’s population – 6.1 billion people – now has access to safe drinking water. A Millennium Development Goal, to halve the number of people who had unsafe drinking water by 2015, has been reached early. Between 1990 and 2010 more than 2 billion people received access to improved drinking water through projects like pipes and protected wells. Contaminated water poses a host of dangers, many of which effect children disproportionately more than adults. More than 3,000 children die daily from diarrhoeal diseases, and 88% of these deaths are due to poor drinking water, lack of sanitation, and poor hygiene.
It is wonderful news that the majority of people now do not have to be concerned about their drinking water, but that only solves part of the problem. To truly improve the lives and health of the poorest people proper sanitation and hygiene practices are essential. The UN warns that sanitation aspect of the water MDG is still off track. The Gates Foundation, the UN, and other groups like the Global Soap Project are working on both the grassroots and government level to teach good hygiene and provide proper sanitation. One of the ways they are doing this is to reward village chiefs and leaders for their roles in improving their villages.
The fact that the Millennium Development Goal for safe drinking water has been met is a testament to the power and abilities of dedicated people. Something so seemingly impossible as giving almost 90% of the world’s population safe, clean drinking turned out to be perfectly achievable. That means that all the other MDG’s are just as possible. Now let us press forward with renewed hope and passion, and give children and families the world over a fair shot a full and healthy life.