World Water Day 2016 — Better Water, Better Jobs

World Water Day falls on March 22 each year, and serves as a time to celebrate all things water. It is also a time to acknowledge water’s pivotal role in our daily lives, to recognize the global population that still lacks access to adequate water supply and sanitation, and to focus on sustainability so that we can protect our world’s most precious resource. While most of us recognize that water is essential to life, many of us don’t realize that water is just as essential to our economy and is responsible for employing half of the world’s workers, or 1.5 billion people. And while half of the world’s workers are directly employed in water-related sectors, a majority of the other half are also reliant upon water for their jobs. The theme for World Water Day 2016 — Better Water, Better Jobs — reflects this reality.

Fetching-water-statisticsFirst, let’s look at some facts:

  • African_girl_fetching_water_with_pitcher663 million people — or 1 in 9 — don’t have access to safe drinking water.
  • The average American uses about 100 gallons of water a day, which is 10 times more water than the average rural resident in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In Africa and Asia, women and girls walk an average of 3.5 miles a day carrying water that weighs more than 40 pounds, or the equivalent of carrying two cases of soda.
  • Each day people, mostly women and girls, spend 125 million hours collecting water.
  • 66 children die from diarrhea from water-related disease every hour.
  • Globally, one third of all schools lack access to sanitation and drinkable water.
  • 160 million children suffer from malnutrition, which has lifelong impacts on health, education, and economic potential; 50% of this malnutrition is directly linked to lack of clean water and sanitation.

And thankfully, some really good news:

  • 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water since 1990.
  • 2.1 billion people have gained access to an improved sanitation facility since 1990.
  • Over 90% of the world’s population now has access to an improved water source.
  • Since 2008, more than $27 million federal dollars have been invested in projects to build up water distribution systems in Navajo Nation, which will will allow about 800 homes to benefit from new pipe systems and improve water quality for about 1,000 homes that already have running water.

Quality and availability of water have a direct effect on peoples’ lives, including workers. Yet millions of people who work in water are not recognized or protected by basic labor rights, and do not have an adequate clean water supply. In fact, over 340,000 of the world’s workers die each year from lack of clean water and sanitation. Many of the world’s workers, including farmers and fishermen, depend wholly on water for their livelihoods. Also, women and girls in developing countries are typically responsible for fetching water, often from miles away, which leaves them no time for education or employment. The adequate quantity and quality of water can significantly change workers’ lives and livelihoods, and can even improve societies and economies.

MaxGilliam_survey_private_dam_LitchfieldCounty_CT_1015Water is also an integral part of our jobs here at Tata & Howard. As a water engineering firm, we strive to improve our water supply and to create a safe, sustainable future for generations to come. As we have recently seen in communities like Flint, Michigan and Sebring, Ohio, unsafe water directly affects the health of both residents and the economy. We accept that it is our diligent duty to provide the most efficient and meticulous engineering service to municipalities and water companies to safeguard our nation’s water supply and the health of residents. We work cohesively as a team to foster innovation and to provide a series of checks and balances, while each and every project on which we work is technically reviewed by a senior engineer not associated with the project.

In addition to our daily work, we actively support numerous water organizations, including Water For People, whose goal is to bring a clean, sustainable drinking water supply to everyone forever, and the Navajo Water Project, which works diligently to bring safe, accessible drinking water to the residents of Navajo Nation. It is our belief that safe water is a basic human right, and through our work and our works, we actively sustain that belief.

matT_DAMON_WATEROn World Water Day, we invite you to join the 2016 campaign to get informed, engaged, and take action. There are many ways to get involved. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website to learn about water, or make a donation to a reputable water charity. Water For People, Charity: water, Navajo Water Project, and Matt Damon’s water.org are all water charities with superior ratings. You can also contribute on social media by using the hashtags #WaterIsWork and #WorldWaterDay. Together we can help the people of the world to have an adequate supply of safe drinking water, improving the health of workers, the economy, and our environment.Subscribe-to-our-newsletter1

The Importance of World Toilet Day 2015

world_toilet_day_2015A toilet is a necessary item we all use multiple times a day, and something we typically choose not to discuss. After all, who wants to talk about toilets — and why we need them. But that’s just what World Toilet Day aims to change.

percentages without toiletsOn November 19, 2001, former construction industry executive Jack Sims founded the World Toilet Organization, and the inaugural World Toilet Summit was held in Singapore. Every year since then, we have celebrated World Toilet Day in an effort to bring awareness of the global santitation crisis, and to eliminate the taboo surrounding the subject of toilets and sanitation. Since its inception, World Toilet Day has gained the notice and support of many organizations in the private sector, civil society, and the international community, and was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2013.

Prior to the inception of World Toilet Day, the less than glamorous subject of sanitation received very little attention, and was therefore rarely prioritized on global development agenda. World Toilet Day aims to educate the international community on the risks associated with lack of sanitation as well as the urgency of implementing global sanitation. With that in mind, let’s look at some global sanitation statistics.

Global Sanitation Fast Facts

  • more people have cell phone than toilet1 in 3 people — 2.5 billion of the world’s total population — lacks access to a clean and safe toilet
  • 1 billion people practice open defecation
  • 90% of diarrhea cases are caused by feces-contaminated food or water
  • Diarrhea results in the deaths of more than 700,000 children under the age of five every year
  • About 2,000 young children die as a result of diarrhea every single day
  • Every $1 spent on sanitation brings $5.50 in return by keeping people healthy and productive
  • Economic losses from lack of access to sanitation amount to an estimated $260 billion annually, more than the entire gross domestic product of Chile
  • Feces are responsible for more than 50% of the nine million preventable child deaths each year
  • Toilets have added 20 years to the human lifespan over the past 200 years
  • If everyone had access to a toilet, the estimated annual gain in economic productivity would be $225 billion

Lack of sanitation not only produces staggering health and economic consequences, but also has serious social implications, particularly for women and girls. Women who lack access to safe, private sanitation facilities are exponentially more susceptible to harassment and violence, and many girls who reach the age of puberty drop out of school if their school lacks adequate sanitation facilities. In general, children lose approximately 272 million school days due to diarrhea each year, with girls losing even more school days due to their familial role as water-gatherers in developing countries.

What We Can Do

Matt Damon dons a (clean) toilet seat to spread awareness of the fact that the toilet is the single invention that has saved the most lives.
Matt Damon, co-founder of water.org, dons a (clean) toilet seat to spread awareness of the fact that the invention that has saved the most lives in human history is the toilet.

Fortunately, the World Toilet Organization and World Toilet Day have brought the sanitation crisis into the global spotlight, attracting the support of several high-profile charitable organizations such as charity: water, Water For People, WaterAid, and water.org, co-founded by Hollywood superstar and Massachusetts native Matt Damon. All of the above charities receive excellent ratings from Charity Navigator, with high percentages of their assets going directly to program expenses. In addition, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made global sanitation a targeted focus of its charitable works, with the Foundation committing $370 million to water and sanitation issues as well as hosting the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge in an effort to bring safe — as well as sustainable — sanitation to the global community.

In Conclusion

Global sanitation and hygiene are of paramount importance to the health and safety of billions of people, and also to the health of the global economy and environment. While the subject of sanitation has become less taboo and has gained more exposure through World Toilet Day and various charitable organizations over the past 14 years, we still have a long way to go. We can start by spreading the word through social media, news outlets, and word of mouth, and by supporting the charities that work so hard to provide safe, private sanitation to the entire global community. Together we can help bring health, safety, and dignity to the 1 in 3 people who still lack access to a basic toilet.

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