Thursday, September 3, 2009

Water Access a Major Factor in World Poverty & Women's Lives

One of the basic necessities of life that most Americans are able to take for granted--water--is increasingly inaccessible to the world's poor.

Sweden recently hosted World Water Week 2009 from August 16-22, where leaders from across the globe came together to address water access, reports Agence France-Press. Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation, said in her speech opening the summit, "By increasing access to water we can change the lives and health of poor women, men and children for the better. Nearly four million people die every year due to water- and sanitation-related diseases."

This year, as part of our initiative Women and Climate Change, FMF published a toolkit in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Women's Environment & Development Organization. The toolkit presents an overview of water access problems, success stories, and ways that you can help!

What's the link between women and water access? The toolkit explains it:
"Throughout the world, women are intrinsically linked to water resources because of their roles and responsibilities in using and managing water. Since women and girls often cook, clean, farm, and provide health care and hygiene for their hous
eholds, they are on the front lines of their communities' and countries' water issues."

In some developing countries, young women in rural areas must travel miles to obtain the day's water, so they cannot attend school; when water is increasingly privatized families must spend more income on water and less on crop cultivation; and contaminated water leads to high rates of infant mortality and birth defects.

The effects of inadequate water access range from the levels of individual health to international relations. Today, leaders from Turkey, Iraq and Syria are meeting to discuss water shortages all three nations face because of the low levels of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, CNN reports.

Take a look at the toolkit to learn ways you or your FMLA can take action to promote water access!

Photo credit: Flickr/mckaysavage

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