I was planning on posting on water today. While I was perusing the web, I came across this excellent slideshow (with audio) and an accompanying brief article. Both deserve some time. Several points are noteworthy and I will mention two. First, waterborne illnesses, which according to their figures affect 2 million people annually (this is probably an underestimate), are preventable. All that is needed is access to clean water, and we have the technology to either move or purify water relatively cheaply (if you have not done so already, check out what the ELCA World Hunger did in Peru for only $7,000). Second, even for those who have access to clean water, very often that water is miles away. It is usually the women who are responsible for the gathering of water. There is a tragic picture in the slideshow of a four year old girl with a large bucket on her head, on her way to fetch water. She will fetch water instead of going to school. This is the plight of millions of women, and without education there is no hope to break the cycle of poverty.
So what can we do? I was thinking about water because when I was in Washington this last weekend at the 2008 Hunger Symposium, I learned that the SW Washington synod had committed to getting off of bottled water. They had taken the challenge offered at http://www.thinkoutsidethebottle.org/, and were working to get the word out (check out the website, they have facts and resources, including a great reusable water bottle that makes quite a statement). Bottled water is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, and according to this NYT op-ed piece, if Americans spent only one quarter of what they spent on bottled water to address global water issues, we would have a very good start on getting clean water to all (not to mention all the environmental costs that we would avoid in manufacturing and shipping bottles). So get your reusable bottle, and donate the money you save to address this pressing issue.