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Charities Strive to Provide Clean Water Amid Fears of 40 Percent World Shortfall in 15 Years

Water sustainability has recently been receiving more international attention after the U.N. released a report that stated that within the next 15 years, the world could be facing a 40 percent water shortfall.

Unfortunately, many areas of the world, including parts of South America, Asia and Africa, are already experiencing a severe lack of clean, sustainable water. The reasons for this range from inefficient purification technology to the lack of close-by water sources.

One way the world has been making huge strides toward providing the entirety of Earth's population with clean, sustainable water is through charity.

World Vision, the largest nongovernmental provider of clean water in the developing world, is one of the many charities that focus on providing sustainable water. The main goal of World Vision is to provide access to 10 liters, approximately 2.5 gallons, of clean water per person, per day within a maximum 30-minute walk from each household, according to Christine Connolly Bell, World Vision media relations manager.

"Dirty water is stealing the futures of children everyday," Bell said. "The problem in the developing world is so severe that nearly 1,600 children under the age of five die each day from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation and improper hygiene."

According to charity: water, a non-profit organization founded in 2006, 90 percent of the deaths that occur from unsafe and unhygienic living conditions involve children under five years old. However, the hopeful news is that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.6 percent of the global disease burden can be prevented by improving the water supply.

The methods that each charity use in order to help alleviate water shortages vary greatly.

"Bringing clean water to people looks different in different places," Kaitlyn Jankowski, supporter experience manager of charity: water said. "Water sources, terrain and population all play a part in determining what technology will serve people best, but there's a solution to everything."

One form of technology that charity: water helps fund are rainwater catchments, which are gutters placed on rooftops that lead the rain into a sanitary water tank. Water purification systems, such as Biosand filters that remove contaminants with sand and microbacterial film, are also commonly funded, according to Jankowski.

Hand-dug and drilled wells are other techniques being used to provide local neighborhoods with access to clean water.

(Image / WorldVision)

"This access to clean drinking water, along with the sanitation and hygiene training provided by World Vision, leads to better educated children, fewer deaths from water-related diseases and more empowered women," Bell said.

In addition to purely a health or environmental issue, water availability and sustainability impact several key social issues. One especially prevalent issue that water sustainability addresses is the role of women and children in a neighborhood.

According to UNESCO, 90 percent of the work done in Africa of gathering water, which can take up to six hours a day depending on a village's location, is done by women.

"Women and children in sub-Saharan Africa spend 20 million hours collecting water each day- hours when children should be in school and women could be providing for and caring for their children," Bell said.

UNESCO predicted that if the distance to a water source decreased from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, school attendance would be able to increase by 12 percent.

(Image / WorldVision)

One inspirational story that Bell mentioned was the story of girl named Everlyn who had to collect water for her village five times a day when she was 13 years old. Her family considered taking Everlyn out of school so she could help more. However, a borehole was drilled in her village that provided local, clean water, so Everlyn was able to stay in school and eventually made it to the top of her class.

The Road that Changed Everything from charity: water on Vimeo.