World Water Day March 22nd, 2019: Leaving No One Behind
To help bring awareness to World Water Day, we’ve asked Mercy Corps—one of our Partners for Change—to share with us what access to clean water means. Marginalized groups—women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people, and many others—are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.
What Access to Clean Water Means
No corner of the world has been untouched by adversity. From Puerto Rico to Venezuela, to Jordan – the challenges have never been greater. Access to clean water still ranks as one of today’s greatest challenges. The global community set a Sustainable Development Goal to ensure access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. And yet, worldwide, approximately 1 in 10 (780 million) people still do not have access to safe water, and approximately 1 in 3 (2.5 billion) people lack access to adequate sanitation. Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene directly contribute to disease and malnutrition.
The disparities in water access disproportionately affect women and girls who are often expected to ‘manage’ household water, which includes spending multiple hours each day fetching water from sources at least a mile away. Similarly, the absence of a household toilet has a profound impact on hundreds of millions of women and girls who have to find somewhere private and safe to relieve themselves. Many face abuse and the risk of violence. All face the loss of dignity and respect.
Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization and one of Nau’s Partners for Change, saves and improves lives and strengthens communities around the world. One way they do that is by working to close the gap in improved water and sanitation access and promote positive health outcomes. Last year alone, they connected more than 3 million people to clean water and improved hygiene and sanitation facilities.
In times of disaster or crisis, Mercy Corps is on the ground providing safe drinking water, appropriate sanitation facilities and promoting key hygiene practices to prevent water-borne disease. In early recovery, they swiftly mobilize resources to repair and establish water and sanitation infrastructure and services with an eye towards durable, long-term solutions.
One example of their work in action can be seen in Jordan, where water scarcity is at critical levels. Jordan’s rapidly modernizing society, coupled with an influx of Syrian refugees, has put new demands on its limited supplies and in some northern communities, water demand has quadrupled. Water conservation is critical, but an integrated effort to offer support and services to farmers, households, and communities that encourage and facilitate the adoption of water saving technologies is also urgent as tensions over this increasingly limited resources are likely to rise.
Photo by Sean Sheridan of Mercy Corps at Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan
So, in 2017, Mercy Corps started a five-year project that aims to increase water conservation in Jordan by focusing on water efficiency on farms, at households, and in communities. Mercy Corps is working with farmers in the north and the Jordan Valley, and with households and communities in the north that are hosting large numbers of Syrians. The project has already saved thousands of cubic meters of water through the installation of water-saving technologies on an early-adopter farm, through water saving devices in households, as well as grey water systems and one decentralized wastewater system in the project’s areas. These interventions are helping to meet water demands today while also supporting communities to prepare for long-term needs down the road.
Merc Corps Water Innovations Tech Program
Mercy Corps’ work in Jordan goes far beyond water delivery and conservation. Over the next couple of months, we plan to share more stories about how Mercy Corps is supporting refugees and host communities to build stronger tomorrows. We invite you to follow along!
About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action—helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.
All photos courtesy of Mercy Corps.