Another humbling visual reminder brought to you by Charity Water.
Lately, I’ve been so busy with grad school that I’ve neglected my blog. Luckily, there are people like those over at the Youth Noise Drop Campaign still working tirelessly to improve global water and sanitation conditions. Previously, I let you know that they were hosting a summit in NYC for young activists to learn more about global water issues. Well, they hosted the summit and have posted the video on their website.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Plus, the Drop Campaign website is super cool. They offer monthly tips on water conservation and water actions, have links to a whole community of other individuals interested in global water, and encourage people to be more aware of global water issues.
Well, I made it. Yesterday was the last day of my 13-Gallon Challenge. All told, this was a completely worthwhile project. I had two goals at the beginning of the challenge: 1) to better understand my daily water use habits, and 2) to understand how it feels to live on a human right allocation of 50 liters (13 gallons app.) of water each day. For the most part, I achieved these goals.
Over the week, I became intimately familiar with my daily water-use habits. Whenever I could, I tried to reduce or limit my water use. Even this morning (after the challenge), I couldn’t help but use the stop-watch again for my shower. See, habits really do die hard. Yet, living with indoor plumbing in an 1100 square-foot house, it would be difficult for me to ever approximate the life of someone in a developing country through this 13-Gallon Challenge. The water challenges that many people throughout the world face are much greater – think carrying water for eight-hours each day or human feces littered on the ground. But, at least I started educate myself and others about the water-access challenges that many endure.
Okay, I must admit I am a little happy to be done. Mostly, because I want to wash a load of laundry. Also, because it was difficult to calculate my water use every day for a week. First, I had to remember to write down my water use immediately after each usage. Then, I had to estimate each usage. Luckily, I settled on over-estimating each usage (rounding up) which made my calculations a bit easier in the long run. So, if I drank three cups of drinking water throughout the day, I would just write .25 gallons of drinking water. Remember, there are 16 cups in a gallon.
Here are my water use totals from yesterday.
Every day of my weekly water use totals will soon be posted on the 13-Gallon Challenge Page at the top of my blog. And it will also be a place for you to take a one-day version of the 13-Gallon Challenge. Check back soon.
In Africa, there is a young girl named Christina. She lives with her family in a small village in rural Ghana in West Africa. Ghana is close the equator with a tropical climate, but each year over eight months may pass without a drop of rain. During these dry spells, the one small pond in her village will slowly evaporate in the hot sun. Villagers are forced to seek water elsewhere. It is Christina’s job to fetch her family’s daily ration of water. Each day, she will walk up to four hours to gather enough water. Christina is a hardworking girl, but because she walks so far for water means she has no time to attend school. Christina is a real girl, and this is a true story as told in the short film below by Water Aid. Water Aid is an international organization with a vision of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. Intrigued? Read more about water in Africa below.
Africa Water Facts
Desert, rainforest, and savanna – over 900 million people live in Africa. It is the second largest continent in the world. Of all who live in Africa, 340 million people (38%) lack access to clean water and 500 million people (56 %) lack access to sanitation facilities.
If you lived in Africa, you would have to walk an average of six kilometers (3.72 miles) to carry sometimes dirty or murky water home to your family for use. The burden of this chore often falls on the women and children of a household.
The Nile, Niger, Volta, and Zambezi River Basins cross multiple political borders making water policy difficult and even volatile according to research conducted by the UN as featured on the BBC.
Above Photo: Water availability in Africa.UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library
Kids twirl around on a Merry Go-Round while water is pumped into a large reservoir holding tank. The PlayPump, under PlayPump International, is not cheap by any means at 14,000 dollars for one system, but is supposed to be more efficient and fun than a traditional hand-pump. Currently, there are over 700 installed and plans to install 4,000 more in rural locations in arid Africa by 2010.
Check out this blog post on Alcateia Design Group News for an interesting view on the system.
No, not a radical environmental group sounding the call this time around. It is the United Nations – Environment Programme with the recent release of the report: UNEP Global Environmental Outlook: Environment for Development (GEO-4). This report assesses the state of the planet since 1987, and was drafted by over 390 experts in the field of environmental studies. It was just released Thursday, October 25, 2007.
Sadly, the outlook on the world’s water is dire. The report warns that a combination of rises in global population, unsustainable agricultural practices, increased degradation of water quality, and climate change will decrease water availability worldwide. Two billion people could face water scarcity by 2025.
A continuing challenge for the management of water resources and aquatic ecosystems is to balance environmental and developmental needs. It requires a sustained combination of technology, legal and institutional frameworks, and, where feasible, market-based approaches. – GEO-4
A recent posting on Science Daily highlights research in collaboration with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences on climate change and river flows.
The article, Climate change and the world’s river basins: anticipating management options, is coauthored by authors from the United States, Sweden, Germany and Australia. This work was supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Global Climate Change Program, the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Research Council Formas, Land and Water Australia, Water CRC Australia, the DFG – German Research Foundation and the International Water and Climate Dialogue.
Their research states global river flow could change drastically with the advent of climate change as early as the 2050’s depending on geographic location. Some basins could experience bouts of increased flooding while other basins will face decreased water supplies. Their research also identifies specific watershed management techniques to lessen negative effects of such widespread river flow regime changes.
A presentation was also recently given on this same research at the 3rd International Symposium on Riverine Landscapes in Queensland, Australia from August 27 to September 1, 2007. Christer Nilsson, Leader of the Landscape Ecology Group at the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science of Umeå University in Sweden, provided this abstract and talk on the issue of climate change and international river management.
Parvathi Menon of The Hindu (India’s National Newspaper) writes a review on the recently released book (August 2007): Towards Water Wisdom: Limits, Justice, and Harmony by Ramaswamy R. Iyer. Iyer is a leading water expert in India most known for his work on the Cauvery River dispute. This book focuses on water shortages in India, neighboring countries, and on international water issues.
This is a question faculty and students from University of North Carolina School of Public Health, the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the Kenan Institute-Asia will attempt to answer. They will be working primarily in the Mekong Subregion of Asia. It is a main goal of the project to make available household water filters to those with no access to clean water in the home. Another aim of this research is to find a way to increase the long-term sustainability, viability, and use of these technologies. Micro-financing and micro-franchising are two models being evaluated for increasing long-term sustainability.
One way we hope to enable these technologies to reach scale is to provide small loans to people who wouldn’t qualify for conventional loans, and help them franchise small businesses. We’ve found that giving the filters or other technologies away is not sustainable and doesn’t really promote the continued use of the technology. We believe we can find models that will be successful in getting point-of-use (home) water purification products into the homes of people who need them
It will be interesting to follow the progress of this research in the Mekong Sub-region. For more information on this research, please see the press release issued by UNC.
British monarch Queen Elizabeth II will be visit Kampala City, Uganda for the Commonwealth Summit in November 2007. The Commonwealth Organization is formed of 53 states of former British Colonies. During the Commonwealth Summit, these heads of government will convene to discuss politics, economics, and trade.
A recent article on New Vision Online, a Ugandan website, states there will be “No more water shortages in the city” upon the Queen’s arrival at the beginning of the Summit. But do they assure a potable water supply for citizens after the departure of the Queen? It appears many citizens have been utilizing Lake Victoria as an alternative to the murky and unpredictable water available from the tap.
What would be done if the Queen was not blessing Kampala City with her presence? Thank goodness citizens will now be assured water supplies from November 23rd until November 25th of this year. God Save the Queen(s), Water That Is.