Water Crisis in Somalia
As the water crisis in Somalia continues so too does the threat to all Somalian lives. The country, alongside neighboring regions, is experiencing the most severe drought in 40 years and, with the April to May rains predicted to be at subnormal levels, the situation is only likely to worsen. To attribute the dire conditions and water supply issues to the current drought would be an oversimplification. Levels of rain largely impact any water supply, particularly in Somalia, which is part desert and has only two permanent rivers. But, one needs to consider the systemic failings alongside this in order to fully understand the gravity of the situation that prevails in Somalia.

A Lack of Resources and Regulation

According to the Somalia Water Shortage Update, by April 23, 2022, an estimated 4.2 million people in Somalia faced “severe water shortages.” The civil war, which has now raged for three decades, has had a profound impact on the country’s water systems with a lack of governance and regulation in place to coordinate and/or advance any existing framework.

The WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) 2019 – SDG report said, “40% of existing water sources are non-functional,” resulting in shortages across the country. “Weak water supply management models” and the high costs of operating and maintaining water systems stand as some of the reasons behind the lack of functional water sources.

At the government level, there is a lack of accountability, which makes planning and regulation impossible. As researcher Mourad Khaldoon notes in a study published in 2022, “Somalia is not a water-scarce country, it lacks good water governance.”

The continued civil unrest and humanitarian crises put further strain on an already strained system. The ongoing conflict has led to the internal displacement of about 3 million people in Somalia. This has led to the overuse of groundwater pumps and increased strain on infrastructure, leaving those in search of water found wanting. The hefty water costs of more than a dollar per cubic meter and the long distances individuals must travel to obtain water, along with the potential contamination of water, continue to be the greatest challenges for the poorest.

Water Contamination in Somalia

Without sufficient supply, desperation takes hold and those in need are reduced to conditions that leave them vulnerable to illness. The connection between supply and sanitation is important to consider. As supply decreases, the already limited resources are shared, resulting in water contamination. Somalia’s greatest source of water, accounting for 80%, is groundwater. But, groundwater is subjected to high levels of pollution due to a number of factors, including the extensive use of pit latrines and shallow underground tanks; high rates of open defecation; livestock and humans sharing the same water points and inappropriate wastewater disposal.

Surveys conducted in 2019 at water points by the UNICEF Somalia Country office indicated “high levels of fecal contamination in water supplies at source, point of collection and point of use.” Without any robust measures in place to regulate the quality of water, the spread of disease is inevitable. Similarly, a lack of education about sanitation further compounds existing issues as at-risk communities lack insight into water contamination and the risks of consuming such water.

The Humanitarian Impact

The WHO says, “No intervention has greater overall impact upon national development and public health than the provision of safe drinking water and proper disposal of human waste,” the Muslim Hands website highlights.

The continued drought in Somalia only serves to heighten the existing water crisis in Somalia. A water assessment published in 2019 with the support of UNICEF highlighted that 2.7 million people required humanitarian aid in the form of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support. Specifically, one-third of households reported a lack of “sufficient drinking water” and about half reported a lack of access to improved latrines, improved water sources and soap.

Thirst is forcing people to make perilous journeys displacing the population while a lack of resources and sanitation are increasing the risk of contracting easily preventable diseases. As these conditions continue, the country continues to fall into further poverty, and while rain is unlikely to provide a long-term solution for Somalians, it would at least provide some level of hope to those suffering most.

UNICEF’s Response in Somalia

UNICEF’s response to the water crisis in Somalia is comprehensive. UNICEF provides the Somali government with support to establish sustainable water systems and helps improve access to toilets while encouraging proper hygiene practices in communities and an end to open defecation. UNICEF also helps the government to link more education facilities to clean water supplies. Additionally, UNICEF is helping the country to maintain and rehabilitate water and sanitation systems, among other efforts.

Humanitarian efforts by organizations such as UNICEF will continue to support Somalia in its water crisis be it through emergency water supplies and practical maintenance or education while The Borgen Project continues to foster upstream change through advocacy, appealing for more U.S. attention to the water crisis in Somalia.

– Rebekah Crilly
Photo: Flickr

Water Scarcity in Ethiopia
57% of Ethiopians have access to clean water today. Time spent searching for clean water, a place to use the bathroom and money spent to treat waterborne illnesses contributes to the poverty crisis by impeding education and potential financial growth. These are four NGOs fighting water scarcity in Ethiopia.


Water4Ethiopia is an independent charity based in London working to improve water insecurity in Ethiopia. The organization has helped about 5,300 Ethiopians access clean water.

In many parts of Ethiopia, safe water is in relatively shallow ground, but the water supply is easily contaminated. Water4Ethiopia works with people local to the area to construct a protected hand-pumped well and treat it with a small amount of chlorine. Water4Ethiopia builds capped springs that transfer water to distribution points.

Water4Ethiopia has installed capped springs that move water to distribution points in Beku Golba, Saglie and Dodo. Hand-dug wells with pumps to distribute water have improved water conditions in Ababari, Kolle, Kidanemihret, Lower Woibla, Maje-Azwara, Mewagna and Kufif. Water4Ethiopia also implements hygiene and sanitation programs to ensure safe, clean water is readily available.

There are in-progress projects that Water4Ethiopia organized to meet its mission to end water scarcity in Ethiopia. Water4Ethiopia hopes to implement hand-dug wells with hand pumps in communities such as Lolo and Marwenz.


Lifewater is an organization that focuses on regions that are hard to reach and implements custom solutions to improve water scarcity in Ethiopia. Lifewater has built over 500 water sources in more than 395 villages. About 88% of WASH solutions are still running, and more than 198,000 people have improved their water sanitation. A core value of Lifewater is “serving the least, the lost, and the last.”

There are five types of custom water solutions engineers at Lifewater use that include hand-dug wells, drilled wells, protected springs, rainwater harvesting and rehabilitated wells. A team of engineers collaborates with the community to determine the best approach for a specific community. Every village is different in its resources, population, distance from water sources and time spent in line waiting for water.

Testing water quality has allowed 88% of water solutions to remain in place and continue to provide communities with water. The goal is to meet the WHO guidelines for having international water sources within one kilometer of one’s house with waiting times of less than 30 minutes.

Lifewater lists fundraisers on its website and shares periodic updates for funding and the progress of water solutions. Recently completed water projects in Ethiopia include hand-pumped wells in Erbaye Huleti, Kenchota and Shefele.  

The Millennium Water Alliance Ethiopia Program

The Millennium Water Alliance (MWA) has created a sustainable water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) program outlining a five-year plan to help Ethiopia attain clean, low-cost water by 2030. This plan prioritizes increasing access in schools and hospitals, the functionality of water solutions and budgeting to ensure solutions last.

The MWA has recently taken a broader approach to improve water conditions. The organization considers the big picture rather than only focusing on infrastructure by focusing on sustainability to ensure water solutions operate long-term.

Researchers at the MWA utilize water point data to determine which districts in Ethiopia need WASH assistance. The Water Point Data Exchange (WPdx) works alongside the WASH program to monitor water accessibility and cleanliness in regions. Reporting collected data on the WPdx allows for collaboration between NGOs and the Ethiopian government to allocate resources.

The MWA also continues to learn about water scarcity in Ethiopia and effective methods to share with other NGOs or government organizations to recreate similar infrastructure in other regions. Thus far, the MWA has successfully provided clean water in Ethiopia for more than 2 million people in hard-to-reach areas.

Hope H2O

Hope H2O is a Canadian volunteer organization that develops educational and WASH projects in Ethiopia. Its mission is to enhance water sanitation and quality of life for Ethiopians. Dating back to 2010, Hope H2O has assisted more than 25,000 Gimbichu District residents.

Hope H2O strategies include large concrete reservoirs, water taps, drains and technology to track usage. All materials used for infrastructure came from Ethiopian merchants and community members that professional plumbers and masons assisted.

The organization works to ensure water points are accessible to most of the community and that the community understands proper sanitary procedures to keep water access points clean. Hygienic methods taught include consistent hand washing and designated family latrine pits that will not contaminate nearby water sources.

Work done in the Menjigsso Gora community improved an old government-installed pump and stationed a generator to extract safe water into a reservoir with a wide service zone. Creating water points in the local elementary school improved school conditions and education in the community, as it was previously difficult to retain teachers.

Hope H2O is currently in phase two of its project in Germama Village. The project entails the construction of sanitary water facilities and community sanitation education. COVID-19 and political unrest halted progress for about six months in 2020 until construction resumed.

Looking Ahead

Access to clean water is a human right vital for the health of Ethiopians and the fight against global poverty. Without water, families are unable to handle other factors contributing to their financial state. It is important to ensure every person has access to basic human needs and these NGOs are working towards that goal.

– Mikada Green
Photo: Flickr

Cambodia’s Drinking Water CrisisCambodia is a Southeastern Asian country known for drastically decreasing its poverty rates from 47.8% of the population in 2007 to 13.5% in 2014. Despite a reduction in poverty rates, Cambodia suffers from a drinking water crisis due to a lack of sanitation. The consequences of this crisis are life-threatening, however, a number of organizations are fighting Cambodia’s drinking water crisis to maintain its climb to prosperity.

Cambodia’s Drinking Water Crisis

One in three Cambodians drinks water from a non-improved or non-reliable source. While the country has improved in sanitation, this improvement is primarily present in urban areas such as Phnom Penh, which is Cambodia’s capital. Basic sanitation in urban areas increased from 49% to 88% in 2015, but only 39% of the rural population has basic sanitation, and only 24% drink water from a clean, regulated water source. Children in rural areas are also two times more likely to drink from contaminated drinking sources than urban children. Seeing as how 61% of the Cambodian population lives in rural areas, it is clear that the majority of the population is suffering.

Moreover, eight in 10 Cambodians living in rural areas defecate in open bodies of water due to a lack of toilets, according to UNICEF. This open defecation leads to coliform and E. coli, which are both disease-causing bacteria, in drinking water. Sadly, diarrhea contributes to most of the under-five child deaths in Cambodia and can lead to stunted and impaired brain development.


Starting its work in Cambodia in 2014, Water.org is a global nonprofit that brings clean water and sanitation to countries around the world. The organization uses microfinance, which is a service provided to those who usually don’t have access to banking or financial services. Water.org, through its WaterCredit Initiative program, partners with financial institutions willing to supply small loans to locals. These locals then use the loans to install toilets in their homes so they no longer have to defecate in open bodies of water.

The organization had a goal of reaching 300,000 Cambodians in three years, but they met the goal in two. Overall, in Cambodia, Water.org has reached 1.9 million people, disbursed 435,000 loans and achieved an average repayment rate of 99%.

Cambodians Community Dream Organization (CCDO)

Working in Cambodia for 15 years, the Cambodian Community Dream Organization (CCDO) aids villages surrounding Siem Reap through its Clean Water program. Through the program, the organization has provided ceramic filters as an alternative to boiling to save fuel, hygiene workshops to educate locals on the importance of hand-washing and over 1,500 water wells.

The most notable part of the CCDO’s work is its water well repair program. The CCDO does not believe in building wells and does not consider the future damages to the wells. Instead, they provide a program that works to regularly examine, replace or fix worn wells.

In addition to the Clean Water program, the organization has also installed 600 latrines since January 2014.

Clear Cambodia

Formed in 2010, Clear Cambodia is a local NGO that recognizes the consequences of E. Coli infections. The organization emphasizes how they are a program run for Cambodians by Cambodians. The organization has impacted 2,527,628 Cambodians through its projects.

Clear Cambodia is famous for fighting against Cambodia’s drinking water Crisis through their household biosand filters. Biosand filters are an adaptation to sand filters found in nature as the sand and gravel remove pathogens and other solids from water. Biosand filters can remove up to 98.5% of bacteria from contaminated drinking water. Clear Cambodia has provided 339,662 biosand filters to households and an additional 1,547 biosand filters to schools. In addition to these filters, the organization has also allocated 236,140 handwashing tools,  installed 11,206 household latrines, implemented 1,539 handwashing stations and provided 212 wells.

A Better Future

As Cambodia’s poverty rates decrease, its drinking water crisis does not seem too far behind. Cambodia’s government is committed to reaching 100% coverage of rural sanitation services by 2025, as evidenced by a bold 14-year plan drawn out in 2011. With organizations like Water.org, the CCDO and Clear Cambodia doing their part to fight the drinking water crisis, there is great optimism that the nation will make it through this challenge in good time.

– Blanly Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr

Israel’s Water Crisis
Many parts of the Middle East struggle to acquire adequate freshwater for household, agricultural and industrial use. Many factors have compounded the problem including a growing population, rising standards of living and more frequent drought, desertification and salinization, and all of these put a strain on water resources in an already parched region. However, since 2007, Israel has implemented numerous technological and organizational measures to increase its water security, to great success. Around the end of the 2000s, decades of drought in the Fertile Crescent and record low levels in the Sea of Galilee – Israel’s largest body of freshwater – prompted the government to focus on Israel’s water crisis and build resilience for the future.

4 Methods Used to Solve Israel’s Water Crisis

  1. Water Recycling. The national water authority built water treatment systems that recycle the water from drains to use for agricultural irrigation. Israel now recycles 86% of its drain water, the most in the world, with Spain a distant second at 19%. Furthermore, low-flow toilets and shower heads were installed across the country.
  2. Monitoring Leaks. Leaks in pipes and water systems can cause serious water loss. The World Bank estimates that on average countries lose 30% of their piped water to leaks. To solve Israel’s water crisis, Israelis invented technology to monitor and discover leaks early on. As a result, Israel now only has a leakage rate of 7-8%.
  3. Desalination. This has been the most important and far-reaching measure to solve Israel’s water crisis. For the last two decades, Israel has been extracting salt from Mediterranean seawater with reverse osmosis, converting it into drinkable water for the nation. Desalination is not a technique exclusive to Israel–around 300 million people worldwide get their water through desalination. Along the Israeli coast, there are five desalination plants that now provide almost all the nation’s tap water.
  4. Adding Water to the Sea of Galilee. Although the Mediterranean now provides most household water in Israel, the Sea of Galilee remains a crucial source of water for irrigation, in addition to its ecological and climatological importance. Yet, it can experience high fluctuation of its water levels due to short and long-term drought. To remedy this, the Israeli government is building a pipe that will carry desalinated water 31 kilometers to the Sea of Galilee’s tributary when the water level drops.

The techniques used to solve Israel’s water crisis show what the future may look like for arid regions, especially coastal ones. Hopefully, with the increasing adoption and affordability of techniques such as desalination, more countries can improve their water security.

– Emilie Zhang
Photo: Unsplash

First Nations Water Crisis
Local health officials issue a boil water advisory when the water in a community is contaminated. When issued, it means the tap water is no longer safe to use unless boiled for at least one minute and buying bottled water for consumption is advisable. On June 20, 2022, the Neskantaga First Nation in Ontario reached the 10,000th day of being under a drinking water advisory issued by authorities. Twenty-seven years have passed since authorities first issued the advisory in 1995 after the water treatment plant failed to produce safe drinking water. The Neskantaga First Nation holds the record for the longest boil water advisory in the nation and is a stark example of the First Nations water crisis that has been ongoing for decades.

Unfulfilled Promises

In 2015, Justin Trudeau made a campaign promise to bring clean water to Indigenous communities and end the First Nations water crisis in a span of five years. However, according to The Guardian, the deadline set by Trudeau passed with 52 advisories still active across 33 communities in Canada as of April 2021.

For decades, Indigenous communities have been forced to create and manage their own water treatment systems, which often means procuring bottled water on their own or simply using the contaminated water if the prices become too steep. Countless families, especially those living in areas where the water has traces of E. coli or uranium, are more susceptible to skin diseases, gastrointestinal issues and more.

Decades of inaction from the federal government and lack of adequate funding prompted chiefs and leaders of the First Nations to collectively sue the federal government in 2019 for failing to provide clean water in a country rich with water resources.

The Good News

According to The New York Times, the Federal Court of Canada ruled in favor of the First Nations and approved a legal settlement requiring the government to invest at least $6 billion CAD toward solving the First Nations water crisis in the next nine years. The government will provide compensation of $1.5 billion CAD to around 140,000 Indigenous people for the damages arising from contaminated water.

Chief Emily Whetung, a lawyer leading the Curve Lake First Nation, mentioned that many communities will be unable to feel the benefits of the settlement, especially those who rely predominantly on private wells. However, she still expressed her excitement at this legal success. “I’m just so thrilled,” she said to The New York Times. “Now that we’ve turned this corner, we can keep going down this road and ensure that we get access to clean drinking water for all First Nations.”

Activism in Indigenous Communities

However, other activists, such as Autumn Peltier, are also doing all they can to ensure Trudeau’s promise does not become an empty one. Her influence started in 2016 when she called out Trudeau publicly during the Assembly of First Nations for his failure to protect the water in her communities. According to APTN News, in the few moments she had to speak to Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada, she said, “I am very unhappy with the choices you’ve made.” Additionally, Trudeau said, “I understand that.” Trudeau responded with a commitment: “I will protect the water.”

Since then, Peltier has dedicated her work to ensuring Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise became reality. She became the chief water commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation and began a career advocating for the importance of clean water, consistently calling Trudeau out online for the lack of progress toward his promise. Having spoken with organizations such as the United Nations, she has also received nominations for the International Children’s Peace Prize on multiple occasions.

Looking Ahead

Although the path to completely solving the First Nations water crisis may be difficult, the legal settlement is a critical first step to bringing clean water to the Indigenous communities of Canada. With the help of activists placing pressure on the federal government, hopefully, it will just be a matter of time before the people of First Nations can enjoy the same right as all other Canadians: the right to clean, safe water.

Emilie Zhang
Photo: Flickr

Global Engineering BrigadeEngineering students from around the world work with the Global Engineering Brigade and local communities to create clean water systems in areas that do not have access to them. College chapters travel to Ghana, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama to cater the water system to the community’s needs.

In Honduras, these efforts are needed more than ever as 5.7% of the population lacked access to clean water in 2021. The following year, Honduras’s capital Tegucigalpa also experienced a clean water shortage for its 1.5 million residents. Coupled with unsafe drinking sources, malnutrition and poor health care, there are increased fears of pneumonia, which is one of the leading causes of child deaths in the country.

Global Engineering Brigades

Global Brigades began in 2003 when Shital Vora, a physical therapist student at Marquette University recruited about 20 students to volunteer in Honduras. While students initially only delivered medical supplies, the scope of the program has since evolved. Global Brigades now also provides clean water, legal help and guidance on improving public health. During the pandemic, engineering students collaborated with communities over Zoom to help with clean water systems specifically.

Water Systems

Ongoing projects in five areas of Honduras continued post pandemic lockdowns. In cities such as Loz Izotes, residents’ primary water sources are local streams with untreated water. For this community, the only way to get sufficient water flow for everyone in the area is to build a well and install an efficient pump system. The location was assessed in 2016 and a water system is designed. However, a project partner is needed to bring the plan to completion.

Volunteering Process

The global engineering brigade has a five-step process for each water system project. Although it is typically a week-long trip, chapters strive to follow these steps to ensure clean water is presented to the community. Students and other volunteers first meet with community residents and leaders to assess current water sources and the community’s needs.

Once the assessment is done, Global Engineering Brigade engineers work with volunteers to design the project. They map the area, design the water system and create a budget that works with the community. With the project developed and the budget created, the volunteers present their findings to the community before they begin construction.

Volunteers also have the opportunity to visit previously completed projects to follow up and ensure it is operating correctly. The construction phase can take time due to funding. While volunteers are not expected to stay during the construction they can extend their trip if they want to.

Ongoing Projects and Future

While the pandemic temporarily changed the way the Global Engineering Brigade operated, engineering students are now back to work in person in 2022. At the beginning of the year, the University of Birmingham in England began to fundraise for their trip to Honduras planned for July 2022.

Similarly, Dalhousie University in Canada raised $30,093.34 for their trip to Honduras in May 2022. In 2021, the engineering students participated in a TeleBridage, helping communities virtually during the pandemic.

The University of Central Florida (UCF) in the United States is scheduled to travel to Honduras in May 2023. Students at UCF also joined the TeleBrigade in 2021 to help with the water access crisis.

Global Engineering Brigades worldwide continue to raise money and provide water systems to countries lacking clean water. As of 2019, 45 water systems have been constructed with the Global Engineering Brigade’s assistance.

– -Sara Sweitzer
Photo: Flickr

Egypt’s Water Crisis
The once bountiful Nile River in Egypt is the victim of overpopulation in the nation, now barely reaching the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile serves as the main supply of water in Egypt, a source that now seems to be quickly drying up. The construction and use of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, has dried the Nile River even further. The construction of the dam has received backlash from critics as it only exacerbates the depletion of the river even further, contributing to Egypt’s water crisis.

The combination of the dam, growing population and an ongoing drought leaves Egypt with the threat of complete water scarcity by 2025, putting the livelihoods of millions of farmers in danger. According to the World Bank, Egypt’s agriculture sector employs about a quarter of the 102.3 million population, with agriculture, forestry and fishing accounting for about 11% of the country’s GDP in 2020.

This, in turn, threatens the food supply of Egypt, further impoverishing an already impoverished country with a poverty rate of 32% as of 2020. Egypt’s water crisis has reached a dire point.

Causes of Egypt’s Water Crisis

Long periods of drought and an increasingly hot and arid climate have shrunk the Nile River, the main source of water in Egypt, an issue common for many water supplies all over the world. However, in development mostly unique to Egypt, the construction of a dam on the Nile River has shrunk the amount of available water even further.

The GERD has placed a large amount of strain on the already dwindling supply of water in the country. The GERD, completed in 2020, is the latest development in a dispute over the Nile’s fresh water basin, a water source essential to the survival of many Middle Eastern and North African countries. Ethiopia now appears to have the upper hand in this dispute, with the GERD granting Ethiopia access to a fairly stable amount of water, while restricting the access of other countries, including Egypt.

However, the most significant contributor to Egypt’s water crisis is the country’s population growth. Egypt’s population increases at a rate of around 2% per year. While that number may not sound like much, the constant and steady growth places a lot of stress on an already low amount of usable water. There is simply not enough to go around. The United Nations estimates that Egypt will reach the point of absolute scarcity by the year 2025, which many fear may mark the point of no return for the African nation.

The Impact of Water Scarcity

Beyond the obvious impact of Egypt’s water crisis on the everyday lives of people living within the country, the lack of water will cause large amounts of damage to Egypt’s food supply. The agriculture industry of the country supports nearly 50% of the nation’s population and uses 86% of the fresh water in Egypt, as of 2020. If Egypt were to reach the state of absolute scarcity, millions of people would be out of work, forcing a large portion of Egypt below the poverty line, not to mention the food insecurity that would also occur. In a country already struggling with poverty, less food and less water would only serve to make matters worse.

Taking Action

The Egyptian government is working to address Egypt’s water crisis. These efforts include the passing of the National Water Resources Plan in 2017 with an intention to contribute $50 billion worth of investments in the water sector by 2037. In 2020, Egypt committed to contributing $2.8 billion to increase its desalination capacity, so that it can convert greater amounts of salt water into fresh water. This offers a great renewable source of water. This combination of efforts offers some hope to the nation.

Egypt relies on aid from other countries and organizations around the world as well, remaining optimistic that help will come.

– Thomas Schneider
Photo: Unsplash

Ukrainians Lack Clean Water
As the war in Ukraine has heightened, citizens have faced devastation as more than 1.4 million Ukrainians lacked clean water as of April 2022 — a consequence of the recent Russian invasion. Additionally, 4.6 million people further east of the country only have “limited access” to clean water. The most significant reason for the lack of water is the damage to water infrastructure as a result of the conflict. In just the eastern region of Ukraine, civilians noted a minimum of “20 separate incidents of damage to water infrastructure” to date. On April 25, 2022, Serhiy Hadai, the governor of Luhansk, a city in eastern Ukraine, stated that multiple water pumps and electricity plants are under attack.

Water Shortage Looms

Water is an essential human need and many other regions that also rely on aid for clean water, food and medicine are under stress as organizations are redirecting much aid to address the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine. Companies that supply aid warn that water shortages are a major cause of concern because a lack of access to clean water holds immense health risks, specifically for the elderly and children.

A spike in “transmission of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, polio, hepatitis A and diarrhea” can occur as Ukrainians lack clean water. Under international law and the Geneva Convention, the treaty that governs global armed conflicts, specifically “targeting water and food supplies” is illegal.

On March 16, 2022, a Russian-led attack on a theater in Mariupol led to the deaths of a minimum of 300 people and Russian forces are blocking much-needed humanitarian assistance from entering the devastated city. The city of Mariupol is also facing a tragic shortage in food and medical supplies as the damage continues to mount.

WASH Cluster Assists Ukrainian Communities

WASH Cluster, a group of 32 international organizations that the United Nations Children’s Fund leads is working to assist communities in Ukraine by supplying water and providing water treatment chemicals, supplies of bottled water and generators. The WASH Cluster has predicted that about 4.5 million people are at risk of losing access to water supplies due to the ongoing war.

President Biden Provides Aid

On March 24, 2022, President Biden ordered the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) to shift focus to assist in alleviating the damages in Ukraine as Ukrainians lack clean water and face other critical shortages.  Accordingly, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) “will open a CFC special solicitation” to assist victims of the war with securing their basic needs.

Purifying Water Filters

Some survivors in the city of Mariupol are resorting to melting snow and collecting rainwater for drinking purposes. Most people have no access to tap water or bottled water, and in fact, residents, consider these a luxury right now. In March 2022, Doc Hendley from the nonprofit Wine to Water sent “12,000 water filters to Ukraine and border areas in Poland and Romania where refugees” are seeking solace. These filters have a lifespan of more than 10 years and have the ability to purify more than 2.4 million gallons of water a day. The filter’s design and size are ideal for times of crisis as the filter is compact enough to fit into an individual’s pocket.

Hope Amid Chaos

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, many people fear the longevity of future hostilities. Water is not just an essential human need but is also a human right, and currently, more than 6 million Ukrainians lack clean water to some extent. Through international aid, Ukrainians are able to meet their basic needs, providing hope to Ukrainians for a brighter tomorrow amid a tragic period of conflict and violence that will eventually become a part of world history.

– Christina Papas
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Spain
The water crisis in Spain has come about due to recurring droughts as a result of the effects of extreme weather conditions that contribute to increasing temperatures in the peninsula. In 2019, the Spanish association La Unión de Uniones de Agricultores y Ganaderos faced losses of  €1.5 billion as a consequence of droughts. In the same year, the Spanish Health Ministry discovered that 67,050 samples from different water sources around the peninsula were not safe for drinking.

Uncovering the Water Crisis in Spain

According to an article by The Water Project, in general, a lack of clean water reduces the likelihood of low-income families escaping the cycle of poverty. Illnesses due to the consumption of unsafe water reduce a person’s energy and productivity, which means children cannot attend school and adults cannot work to earn an income.

Within the Castilla y León region of Spain, villagers struggle to access drinking water as agricultural pollution has affected water supplies, deepening the water crisis in Spain. Villagers have to walk to the main city centers to obtain bottled water to complete essential daily activities, such as brushing their teeth and cooking. In Castilla y León, in March 2021, about 63 municipalities did not have “running water.”

Effects of the Water Crisis in Spain

According to research by Kemira, a company dedicated to providing sustainable chemical solutions for water-intensive industries, water reuse is the best way to address the water crisis in Spain. Water reuse, “the use of purified water from municipal sewage treatment plants for different purposes,” can lower the current cost of desalination plants as Spain can recycle water for agricultural use. The OECD has said that around 67% of Spain’s water usage goes toward agriculture, and in Southeastern Spain, water use for agriculture “rises to as much as 85-90%.”

The dire water crisis is visible in the national park of Las Tablas de Daimiel, a wetland that has dried up in the last three years. As a result, many of the aquatic species living in the wetland have disappeared, marking the effects of the Spanish water crisis. In fact, in 2009, “subterranean peat fires broke out” due to the increasingly dry temperatures, decreasing the once 500 kilometers of wetland into 30 kilometers.

An article by The Guardian states the water crisis in Spain began in the 1970s when the Spanish government decided to turn the Spanish cities of Murcia and Almería in the Southeast of Spain — an area where water is minimal and none of the major rivers flow — “into Europe’s market garden.” As a solution to lacking water, the government chose to “transfer water from the headwaters of the Tagus through almost 300km of pipeline to irrigate” the area.

But, this only served to exacerbate “unsustainable intensive agriculture” leading to “the exploitation of groundwater, with disastrous environmental consequences.” In August 2021, in the Mar Menor saltwater lagoon in Murcia, “thousands of dead fish” showed the consequences of unsustainable agriculture and “fertilizer polluting the groundwater that drains into the sea.”

The Government’s Solution

The Spanish government recognized the situation as unsustainable for the country’s future, prompting it to begin a five-year water plan “to conform with the European standards on water quality” that will apply in 2027. Announced in June 2021, Spain’s five-year Hydrological Plan for the period 2022-2027 will “prioritize the uses of water, manage large floods and droughts and define ecological flows that ensure the protection of waters and their ecosystem.”

In addition, the plan includes “reducing the pressures that the water masses support, improving the purification systems, promoting water-saving and reuse and meeting the demands for water in a way that is compatible with its good condition.” The plan also involves cuts in the quantity of water transferred from the Tagus river to the Southeast region of Spain.

As Spain implements the five-year Hydrological Plan, there is hope that the water crisis in Spain will reach a resolution.

– Nuria Diaz
Photo: Max Pixel

Water SecurityThere are 326 million trillion gallons of water on planet earth. However, only 1% of that is clean and accessible. This means there is enough water for everyone on the planet and more. Nonetheless, 1 in 5 children still do not have basic water security.

Lack of Water Security Hurts the Poor Most

Globally, 80 countries harbor children living in regions considered to have low water security. The poorest children are the most likely to live in these regions. Of the top ten most affected countries, nine are in the poorest continent on earth: Africa. A staggering 58% of children in Eastern and Southern Africa face a difficult path to get water on a daily basis. In some regions, families have to travel for up to 30 minutes to get water at all. Consequently, the lack of water security increases the risk of dehydration and takes time away from families who could be working. The risk for water deprivation is also increased, which is lethal. Furthermore, impoverished children face another issue related to poor water security.

An Infectious Problem

In regions with poor water security, bacteria and viruses often contaminate the water. Water contamination leads to diarrheal illness, taking more children’s lives than many of the most common causes for death. It is the second leading cause of death for children worldwide. The illness causes the person affected to lose so much fluid that they die from dehydration. In total diarrheal infections take the lives of 525,000 children each year.

The Water Packet

Water security is a concerning problem that industry giant P&G has been tackling one liter at a time. In 2004, P&G initiated its Children’s Safe Drinking Water program, a revolutionary initiative based around a simple yet effective invention called a purifier of water packet. Created by company scientists, it has the ability to transform 10 liters of dirty water into crystal clear drinking water in thirty minutes. First, the four-gram packet is placed in dirty water and then the whole container is stirred thoroughly. During the stirring, any particles in the water group together into thick clusters. Then the stirring ceases and the particles are allowed time to settle at the bottom. Throughout the whole process, the packet disinfects the water from contaminants. Lastly, the water is run through a cloth which catches the remaining particles and all that is left is drinkable water.

Brittaney Stapleton, Volunteer Relations Coordinator at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical garden informed The Borgen Project about her time at a P&G event where she was shown a demonstration of the packet. She said that during the event the attendees were taken to a beautiful piece of land with a murky brown reservoir of water. “I wouldn’t have touched that water with a ten-foot pole,” she remembered. “So they opened the packet and I don’t remember exactly how long they had to do it but they just stirred with a big stick and after a period of time, the water was crystal clear. There was no debris. It was crystal clear and it looked like something you would see in a Brita filter. Just clear.”

Looking Towards the Future

Throughout the lifetime of the program, a total of 18 billion liters of water have been purified, with P&G planning on purifying billions more in the future.

Brittaney added that they geared the demonstration towards showing people how easy it is to change lives. “It made you feel that much better to know even if you could only give a little bit it’s making a huge impactful difference. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be a millionaire, you can be just middle of the road and you can still help.”

– Cole Izquierdo
Photo: Flickr