Today is Global Blog Action Day and the theme is water. It sounds like such a basic, simple thing. And it should be, but the reality is so different.
In July this year, the General Assembly announced that access to clean and safe drinking water is a basic human right.
Despite this, in Ghana today, (my own backyard), over 25% of deaths in children are caused by diarrhea from contaminated water. In these areas, "half the population get its water from wells, ponds and streams that often contain disease-causing microorganisms."
Here some boys collect drinking water from a rubbish dump - it leaves little question as to why illness and death statistics are so high:
The problem in Ghana is 'dire' according to UNICEF, and Wikipedia even features an article about the dismal water supply and sanitation issues in the country. They note that from data accumulated by the World Health Organization and the UN, only 4% of people in rural areas have access to a water supply to their houses, and only 2% have access to any form of sewage system.
The history of why and how it has been left to get to this state is long and ugly. It involves politicians and greed, disorganization and marginalization. Basically the needs of the rural poor have been on the bottom of every list.
But is anybody doing anything????? Well, yes. Luckily amidst the many ineffective NGOs, there are a few that make a difference, one community at a time.
Water for Ghana - helps villagers to come together and build their own tanks for a fresh supply of water.
PureHomeWater - an MIT initiative, run by American Susan Murdoch, distributes filters designed for small rural systems.
Green Cross Australia - has spearheaded a project to bring clean water to schools across Ghana.
Many other volunteers are raising funds to distribute filters on a micro level - after witnessing the conditions in Ghana's north.
But it's estimated that Ghana needs over $200million to kickstart the water and sanitation problems.
For the sake of the children, I hope some of the USD $13billion that Ghana has just been promised by China will go toward bringing fresh clean water like this (below) to every person in all of Ghana.