In the U.S., we can generally count on having safe, clean drinking water. We turn the faucet on and water appears. But in many parts of the world, families do not have a clean, safe water supply. They often walk miles to get water from streams or rivers. They spend hours every day getting water that might not even be safe to drink.
- 844 million people in the world live without access to clean, safe water. That’s one person in nine.
- 159 million people depend on surface water, such as water in lakes, streams, and rivers, for their basic water supply. If these water sources dry up or become contaminated, they’re in trouble.
- In these areas, women and children spend hours each day getting water. This time could be used in other things—going to school, getting an education, and working to support the family.
- This water has to be boiled, which takes more time, as well as expensive fuel. If it’s not boiled, people can become sick with serious diseases.
- Almost one million people die every year from diseases caused by unclean water. Children and women are especially at risk.
- But progress is being made in many areas. Nonprofit groups from places like the United States and Europe share their resources with local groups, helping to build wells and to teach local citizens about safe water.
Questions and Answers
Question: What can people living in areas without water do? What can I do?
Answer: Many people living in areas without water are working to find solutions. William Kamkwamba lives in Malawi, in Africa. As a child, he loved science and dreamed of building a windmill to bring electricity and water to his community. People laughed at his idea, but William kept trying.
His country had little water and food and he often went hungry. He had to drop out of school because his family couldn’t afford to pay the tuition. But he read books, tried new things, and dreamed. Eventually he figured out how to make a windmill.
Here in the United States, we can become more aware of the water crisis. We can be careful about how we use water. Some kids and schools work on projects or raise money to help solve the water crisis.
Read more about William Kamkwamba’s life.