World Water Day
By Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas, Board Member
Happy World Water Day 2018! First declared by the UN in 1993, World Water Day focuses attention on the importance of universal access to clean water and the sustainable management of freshwater sources.
So what’s the big deal about water? My father was a rocket scientist (literally!) who later was a science teacher. He never tired of teaching his children and his students the importance of water, with all its special properties. Dad was fond of reminding us that the same water that was present 4.5 billion years ago when Earth was formed is still with us today. Liquid water covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, of which 97% is in the oceans. That sounds like a lot of water! But according to NASA, only 3% is freshwater. Most of that freshwater is locked up in glaciers and ice. The remaining 1% is mostly groundwater, with a small fraction filling the world’s lakes and rivers.
Today, 2.1 billion – close to 30% of people on Earth – live without safe drinking water at home; affecting their health, education, and livelihoods. The U.N. Sustainable Development Goal #6 commits the world to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, and includes targets on protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution. If we poison the only water we have on Earth, there is no replacing it.
Project Ethiopia works to support the health and well-being of rural children through the provision of clean water school wells. With the same community engagement and volunteerism that helps raise school buildings, villagers step forward to help the Project Ethiopia team dig a well, building valuable knowledge and skills that will ensure these improvements are appropriate and sustainable.
Since 2006, we have been busy bringing clean water to rural schools and communities. To date, Project Ethiopia has installed 17 school and village wells and installed 3 piped water systems. And this year, we will bring clean water to two new school sites serving nearly 1,600 students who only have access to drinking water from contaminated streams. This is, indeed, something to celebrate in recognition of World Water Day!